Comprehension in Early Readers

By Brian Southwell

Reading is one of the essential skills a person can learn. Its importance goes far beyond simply being able to decode words on a page; instead, it is the key to unlocking comprehension—one of the most fundamental building blocks of learning. Although children are initially limited in what they can read independently, comprehension instruction can and should occur as soon as they enter school.

 Comprehension requirements

Comprehension depends, firstly, on a large, working vocabulary and substantial background knowledge. Even before children can read for themselves, we can build this vital background knowledge by reading interactively and frequently to children from various text types. Choose these in part for their ability to expand what children know about the world around them. In addition to increasing their exposure to new vocabulary and concepts, this practice is also a model for children to listen carefully and critically to a text, two skills essential for understanding what they read. As children grow older and become more proficient readers, they can be taught explicit strategies for comprehending texts, such as how to make inferences or identify the main idea. With time and practice, these skills will become second nature, and children can approach any text with confidence and understanding.

 What can parents do?

We must do all we can to help our children comprehend their reading material. One way to ensure comprehension is to ask questions, and encourage questions and discussions from them. It is also vital that instruction allows kids to actively relate their knowledge or experience to the ideas in the text. By taking these measures, parents can help their students better understand and remember the information they are reading.

 Connect with kids’ own lives

When students can connect their reading to their own lives, they are more likely to comprehend and remember the information. Consequently, we must take steps to facilitate such understanding.

How do kids engage in Comprehension?

Children engage in text or reading comprehension skills in many different ways. Some strategies may be effective when taught alone but are often most effective when conducted in clusters and used flexibly. As reading proceeds, you can explicitly model ways to raise questions, think about the text, and deepen comprehension. However, these modeling skills require education and practice. Furthermore, understanding story structure and periodically summarizing key points are essential for enhancing text comprehension. By using a variety of methods, both in and out of the classroom, educators can help students improve their understanding of texts.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Before they begin reading a text, children should preview it to get an idea of what the text will be about. This will help them to become aware of what they already know about the topic and what they would like to know.

Previewing allows children to focus on the parts of the text most vital and predict what they will read. It also helps them identify any unfamiliar words or concepts they may need to look up. Children should learn to monitor whether they understand and to apply strategies such as rereading to understand better. They also should be able to ask themselves questions about the author’s message.

 Reading Comprehension Checks

Reading specialists have long known that effective instruction goes beyond simply teaching students to read words on a page. To truly comprehend what they are reading, students need to be able to engage with the text at a deeper level. They need to be able to summarize what they have learned, connect new information to known information, and evaluate the author’s intent. In short, they need to be able to go beyond the literal meaning of the text and draw upon a range of higher-level thinking skills.

While this may sound like a lot for students to learn, it is essential to remember that reading comprehension is a complex process that is seldom taught well.

Too much literal interpretation

Research suggests that too much time is often spent on literal questions that test literal comprehension(i.e., facts and figures) instead of queries that encourage deeper engagement with the text. With a better process to support comprehension, you can help your kiddos develop the skills they need to become more proficient readers.

Reading Ranch Programs are here to help.

Our Early Reader programs provide the tools and strategies that emergent readers need to succeed and improve their reading and comprehension skills.

At The Reading Ranch our curriculum covers important skills that contribute to reading success, oral language, print awareness, and letter recognition are some of the most critical. Oral language helps children learn to communicate and understand the world around them. Print awareness helps children understand that reading is a way to get information from texts. Letter recognition helps children identify the individual sounds that makeup words. These skills lay the foundation for later reading development, and we encourage parents and caregivers to focus on them from the very beginning. By helping children develop these essential skills, you can give them a head start on their reading journey.

We focus only on Literacy from PreK-6th Grade!

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