5 Best Strategies for Reading with Comprehension - Y Literacy

5 Best Strategies for Reading with Comprehension

I remember reading with a student who could easily read any word or phrase placed in front of him. The problem? He wasn’t reading with comprehension. This often happens with individuals who are learning the English language but are quick to master English word reading. Other times, the reason for it isn’t as easily explained. Regardless, reading with comprehension is essential as it’s the difference between simply reading words and the words on the page coming to life and captivating the reader! 

What can be done to help ensure words on the page are more than just that for our children? How can we make sure we are improving their reading comprehension levels? What can we do to help these word readers out? 

If you’re looking for ways to help your child’s reading comprehension improve, keep reading! I’m going through 5 of my favorite strategies for teaching children to read with comprehension below.

*Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link, meaning Y Literacy makes a small commission on purchases made at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

mother son reading; best reading comprehension strategies; how to help child with reading

Strategy 1: Make Predictions and Compare Them to What Actually Happens

How many of us have gone to the movies without watching the trailer first? This rarely happens! We watch the trailer and excitedly anticipate what we’re going to see. Naturally, we make predictions.

Have you ever then irresistibly whispered to your neighbor what you thought was going to happen? At least one of my kids does this to me every time we watch a movie together. It’s a sure sign that they’re fully invested in the movie!

Is it important to make these predictions? Definitely! They help our brain to process what’s happening! Is it a failure if the predictions don’t come true? Not at all! In fact, the movie would be super boring if our predictions did come true! We remain invested in a movie because of both the story line and the anticipation of what’s to come!

The same goes for books. It’s important for readers to review the synopsis at the back of a book. We can then use that information to anticipate not only whether or not the book will be of interest to us, but also to make predictions in regards to what we believe may happen. The step of making predictions and comparing them with what actually happens is also important to review after each chapter or section of a book. 

The purpose of making predictions is NOT to be correct. That would make for a boring book. Our predictions should be possible, but a great book will have us comparing what we think will happen with what actually happens. It’s helpful to take time and do this comparison as doing so keeps our readers engaged! Therefore, this is an important step for reading with comprehension.

reading comprehension strategies our kids must be taught; reading help for kids struggling readers; how to teach reading comprehension; reading comprehension help for parents; tips for parents to help with reading; how to help child with reading comprehension #readingsupport #strugglingreaders

Strategy 2: The Who, What, Where Strategy

The who, what, where strategy refers to the following questions: Who is in the scene? What is happening? Where are they?

It’s important to be able to answer each of these three questions continuously as we read. For some in which drifting off from their reading happens frequently, it may need to be practiced after each minute or paragraph of reading. For others, reviewing at the end of a chapter is sufficient. 

To build stamina in this area and to improve an individual’s ability for reading with comprehension, I have set a timer for students and had them answer these questions each time the timer went off. I then slowly increase the time intervals.

For my visual learners, I encourage them to close their eyes and draw what is happening when the timer goes off. I ask them to close their eyes simply because I want the focus to stay on visualizing the story instead of on perfecting their artwork. 

Once readers become increasingly proficient with answering the who, what, where questions, other questions such as how a character would feel can be added.

Strategy 3: Using Knowledge of Common Punctuation

Punctuation helps with knowing how a story is to be told. For example, the use of a comma can indicate that someone is about to speak. It can also indicate that the author wants to break up a sentence or provide more information. It’s also common for definitions of difficult words to be given between commas or after one. Teaching our readers this and having them practice looking for commas and analyzing their purpose can be helpful when working on reading with comprehension.

Other punctuation, such as a question mark or exclamation point will change how we read a particular sentence.

Regardless of the punctuation, the types that end at the bottom right of words are best to pause immediately after when reading. This includes periods, commas, exclamation points and so on. Knowing and implementing this can help a lot with comprehension, especially if your reader is one who currently is not pausing when reading.

Quotation marks are another method of punctuation that need to be taught. They indicate that someone is speaking. This may seem obvious to those of us who already know this, but it can be confusing for individuals who don’t know it. To add to this, teaching our readers that new speakers will be introduced in a new line or paragraph within a story is also important knowledge for reading with comprehension.

Try having punctuation be the focus when reading with your child for an evening or two. Stopping to discuss why an author used a comma or certain punctuation mark can really help kids digest and retain the information, thus making it an automatic part of their reading comprehension skills. If the story contains dialogue, stopping to discuss who is speaking and how our reader knows this can also be helpful to work on.

5 best strategies for reading with comprehension; reading with expression; reading with your child; reading comprehension strategies; learning to read struggling readers parents; help for struggling readers; how to help child with reading comprehension #readinghelp #yliteracy

Strategy 4: Use Typography Tips

Why are words italicized or bolded within a story? Italicized words can be used to show that a word is to be emphasized in reading it. They can also indicate thoughts or a dream. Some authors prefer the use of bolded words to show this, especially when wanting a word or phrase emphasized.

This switches when it comes to textbook reading. Bolded words within a textbook are bolded at the beginning of a chapter to indicate the word is in the glossary or is being defined somewhere on the page. These words are generally only bolded the first time they are seen within a chapter. Knowing this information can really help students with comprehension of textbook reading, as they become aware that more information is provided within the textbook should they need it.

When these pieces of information are specifically brought to the attention of our children, it can really help them for reading with comprehension. Simply pointing out some of these examples and having discussions around why the author has used italicized or bolded words will help our children understand their uses and, in turn, better understand what they’re reading.

Strategy 5: Practice Reading with Emphasis

Have you ever told a really exciting and engaging story using a monotone voice? Probably not. A good story should be told with emphasis. This, too, will help with reading comprehension. Reading with emphasis will require reading stories aloud which will also help with fluency.

Reading with emphasis tends to require practice. It may help to have your child read a sentence once, then go back and reread it with emphasis. Once understood, knowledge around the punctuation and typography used within a sentence will give clues as to how the sentence should be read.

In my opinion, reading aloud is often discouraged way too early. Kids become encouraged to read “in their heads” to allow for silence. Yet reading aloud provides the practice for improved fluency and reading with emphasis that’s so important. Each of these skills also helps our children read with comprehension. If keeping the reading environment quiet is necessary, many find reading with these auditory feedback phones helpful.

If there is a younger child in the home, he/she can provide an ideal practice opportunity for the monotone reader. A favorite stuffy or family pet can also be great for our children to read to, especially if they aren’t taking the risks for reading with emphasis with us as willingly. 

Can our children change voices to match the character and tone to match the mood of the character? Are they using clues within the story to know when to pause and/or to know how a character would feel? Reading with emphasis is not only fun, but it definitely helps improve one’s reading comprehension as well. 

Need more reading help?

Do you have readers in your life that don’t appear to be grasping reading as you believe they should be? Do you want to know what’s getting in the way of your child’s ability to read with ease?

If so, check out Y Literacy’s FREE Masterclass to help you determine what specific type of reading needs your child might have. Understanding this is key to providing your child with the targeted support necessary for his/her specific reading needs. 

38 thoughts on “5 Best Strategies for Reading with Comprehension”

  1. I like the idea about making predictions and comparing to the outcome. I homeschool and have the ability to be very hands on with our children. I’ll remember this tip and use it next time I need to! Thanks!

    1. Awesome! It can be a lot of fun to practice this strategy while watching a favorite TV show as well before transferring it to reading. 😀

  2. This is such an important topic. My son was one of the children who quickly learned how to read but wasn’t comprehending it. The 5 W’ s really helped him! A good way to utilize it is writing each W (who, what, when, where, why) down on a paper and have the child fill it out while reading. Great information!

  3. I agree that tip 2, practicing retellings, is important to developing reading comprehension skills. It’s so sad when a child struggles to process key elements of a story because they haven’t been exposed to it before. I even do this with my toddler and he’s getting better at retelling the story.

    1. Yes, these strategies can be implemented at any age and it’s amazing to see how quickly the skill improves with practice. 🙂

  4. I love the tip to ask “who”, “what”, and “where”. That will really keep everyone engaged in the story and is great ways to open up a conversation about the book.

    1. Thanks, Kristen! It sure is a quick way to recognize whether or not our children are understanding the basics of what they are reading. 🙂

    1. That’s great, Michelle! Trying out different ones and then knowing which strategies work best for you is helpful. 🙂

  5. Thank you for these tips they are straight to the point and easy to implement! I recently started schooling my daughter, and I realized her reading isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. I will be using trying these tips next!

    1. Awesome, Samantha! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions along the way. I wish you and your daughter all the best! 😀

  6. Thank for these tips and your expertise! I am looking forward to helping my son learn how to read. Feeling more confident after reading this.

  7. Love these tips! And yes, totally agree with someone above that these comprehension strategies can be used during shows, movies and even just real life conversations! Saving this to come back to!

  8. This is so helpful! My daughter is just beginning reading and these tips will be really useful this school year- thank yoiu!

  9. Great information. My son is in second grade and we try our best to make sure that he is always reading for comprehension. It helps that he has younger siblings to read to and he is always willing to share who, what and where with them. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *