Reading Comprehension

When reading is a problem for your child

Learning language and literacy skills takes time and effort. Reading is especially complex because it involves the interpretation of written symbols, which must then be grouped into words and recognized by the reader. This linking of words to meaning embodies comprehension. If your child is below the expected reading level, the following issues may be involved:

  • Difficulty making sense of the written word, or understanding the meaning of new words.
  • Inadequate experience with the language to comprehend words.
  • Learning disabilities or hearing and vision problems.

The diagnosis of reading issues is a tricky task, in part because many children discover strategies to hide their problems. The child's teacher may report comprehension problems to you, or you may notice an inability to re-tell the story's contents or that the child incorrectly follows the story with his or her finger.

Remedial Work

There are a number of ways to tackle reading comprehension. Consider:

  • Dictionaries to help learn new words.
  • New strategies for reading such as frequently reviewing small sections.
  • Tutoring and extra reading at home.
  • Engaging your child in the story by asking questions and connecting the story's events to your child's life.
  • Model and encourage reading and thinking aloud.

To make sure reading doesn't become a chore, use subtle and fun ways to help your child learn and understand words. Challenge your child to read non-book printed words, such as signs, food containers and recipes. Put your child in charge of the grocery list at the supermarket. You can even put sticky notes up throughout the house labeling common objects so that your child can learn to associate the words with the things they represent.

The most important thing is that you as a parent are patient with your new reader, and encourage him or her to try. As with any skill, consistently praise and reward effort rather than achievement. Don't be surprised by how much time and effort it takes to read - remember, you yourself are still learning new words every day!