Eight ways to improve reading comprehension

4 July, 2017

It is not just reading a variety of texts that is important, it is fully comprehending those texts.

At Kumon we encourage our students to read as widely as possible, and to nurture a love of reading for both education and enjoyment.

Wider reading enriches a child’s understanding of the world around them and will benefit students in all other aspects of learning as they are more readily able to comprehend the materials they encounter.

It is not just reading a wide variety of texts that is important, fully comprehending those texts and grasping the concepts being discussed is fundamental. There are a number of ways you can broaden your child’s understanding of what they have read.

Here are a few suggestions:

Talk about it – there is no better way to ascertain understanding of a story than by talking about it. Ask your child what happened in the book and pose questions on the information they give you.

Watch it – many books have been adapted into a film or a play. Is there a version of the same story you can take your child to see, so they can engage with it in another medium? Sometimes it helps for children to be able to visualise what they have read, but this also proves a great platform for further discussion: is this how they thought it would be shown? What’s different?

Write a review – is your child able to write a quick summary of what happened in the book? And perhaps illustrate with a picture?

Explore their favourite character – enquire who their favourite character is and why or what they have done to make them their favourite. By designing a character profile for them, your child can gain a great understanding into how this character’s decisions, actions and personality have driven the plot.

Make notes – encourage your child to note down anything they particularly like whilst they are reading, or anything they don’t fully understand. They can then go back and revisit these words or passages afterwards, further developing their vocabulary and strengthening their comprehension of the text. This activity will also prevent them from shying away from more challenging texts.

Read out loud – ask your child to read to you. Reading out loud will make them read slower, and engage with the literature in a different way, for example, hearing information often makes it easier to form a visual of what the text is trying to convey.

Re-reading – encourage your child to glance backwards and re-read sections to remind themselves of any information they have forgotten – who a person was, what a particular word means etc. Re-reading these passages will refresh their memory and provide helpful context cues so they can better understand and interpret later sections of the text.

Find out more – is there a particular theme in the book that your child might like to explore in more detail? If so, a trip to the library could be a good way to promote wider understanding.

Additionally, many families look towards supplementary education to support their child in developing strong reading comprehension skills. Currently over 25,000 children across the UK and Ireland are studying on the Kumon English Programme. To find your nearest study centre, simply enter your postcode into the search bar above.

The summer holidays provide the perfect opportunity to get your child reading more, and by taking steps to improve their reading comprehension, you are ensuring their brain stays nimble over the long break from school, as well as ensuring they experience every ounce of enjoyment that reading can bring.