As your children grow up and reading becomes a bigger part of their lives, helping them become active readers is very important. This is because good readers are active readers, and getting engaged in reading helps with comprehension. An article published on understood.org provides 6 tips for parents to use in order to help their children improve reading comprehension by actively reading. We’ll outline them here for you and we encourage you to try them out with your child. Here are the 6 tips:
1. Make Connections
Connecting what your child already knows to what they are reading sharpens their focus and deepens understanding. Be your child’s guide and show them how to make connections as they read. Do this by sharing your own connections as you read aloud. Talk about memories, trips, or experiences which involve the topic of the text. Good readers make many types of connections as they read, and by showing and reminding your child of this, you’ll help them create their own connections.
2. Ask Questions
By asking your child questions as they read, you’ll make your child want to find clues in the text which they’re reading and in turn spark their curiosity. Good readers don’t just read the text in front of them, but instead challenge what they’re reading by asking questions. Ask your child “What are you wondering?” Write down their “wonderings” and then check how they turn out.
3. Create “Mind Movies”
Creating visual images as we read brings words to life and helps to make the story stick in our minds by making it memorable. We call this process visualizing and verbalizing when we work with students, but we like the term “mind movies” which is used in the original post. You can help your child create these “mind movies” by modeling the process to them. Read aloud and then describe the pictures which you’re seeing in your own imagination. Make them vivid by using all five senses and emotions, and then ask your child to share their own “mind movie.” Have fun discussing how the two movies are different. If you want to add some art into this activity, or if your child is having a tough time describing what they see, ask them to draw what they are imagining.
4. Make Inferences
When we infer, we get to be detectives who combine clues from the story with what we already know in order to figure out some additional information. For example, when we read that “he wiped the tear streaming down his face and tried his best to smile,” we can infer that he has been crying and is trying to hide that fact. A good way to help your child develop this skill is to predict what might happen in the story and then having them do the same.
5. Figure Out What’s Important
A key skill in reading is the ability to figure out what’s important. Use a “story element” organizer as you read a story with your child. Use it to keep track of the key parts of the story- characters, location, problem and solution etc. Let us know if you need help finding one of these organizers, or look online for one to download. Remind your child that nonfiction texts are set up differently than fiction ones. Point out that they’re organized using things like a table of contents, heading, bullet point, various fonts, photos and the index. All these can help them figure out the important parts.
6. Monitor Comprehension
It’s important for your child to practice monitoring their own reading (talk about a confidence boost and a sense of independence!). Those who do so use strategies to help them when they come across something they don’t understand. You can help your child do this by teaching them how to “click and clunk.” Read something together, and ask them to hold up one finger when the text is making sense (click). If something is harder to understand and they feel that some of the meaning is getting lost, have them hold up two fingers (clunk). Teach your child to use these “fix-up” strategies to repair the “clunk” which they encounter as they read. Practice these steps together a few times to get your child comfortable with them.