Comprehension is the essence of reading – a skill that is not only critically important to the development of reading skills, but for lifelong learning as well.
Two aspects of comprehension
Children who experience comprehension difficulties usually struggle with one or both of the following skill subsets that are needed to develop strong comprehension skills:
- Difficulty recognising and decoding individual words in a text.
- Difficulty understanding the meaning or message that the text conveys as a whole.
The inability to decode individual words in a text is generally directly related to struggles with understanding the meaning of a text as a whole. Both skills are critical to comprehension.
Tips to improve word decoding skills
Developing word decoding skills is a lot about developing vocabulary. Some helpful tips include:
- Make flashcards of new words – writing down any new words that your child encounters in the form of flashcards that they can flip through regularly.
- Keep a word journal – an exercise book where your child can write down any new words and their meanings.
- Discuss the meaning of words – when reading together, pick out particular words and explain their meaning.
Tips to improve text understanding
- Ask questions – before, during and after reading. Questions like ‘What do you think the book is about?’ What interests you about the book?’, ‘Where is the story set?’ ‘Who are the main characters?’, ‘What happened when…?’ ‘What do you think will happen next?’
- Use graphic organisers – which are written exercises that allow children to visually map out different elements of a story. There are countless graphic organiser templates available for free online. These will help your child organise their thoughts to provide a clearer picture of the different elements of a story.
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