Improve Student Reading Comprehension Skills

How To Improve Student Reading Comprehension Skills 2024

Category: Education

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5 min read

Helping students really understand what they read is so important, but it can be tricky. In this article I have shared the practical ways to boost reading comprehension.

First, let’s know about why strong reading comprehension matters so much for students. 

Why Reading Comprehension is Vital for Students

Being able to understand texts deeply really help students to learn across all their classes from science to history to math. It also lets them

  • Follow instructions better both written and spoken ones
  • Do better on tests with long passages to analyze
  • Build their knowledge of the world and different perspectives
  • Grow their vocabularies a must for strong reading.
  • Think critically about what they read instead of just skimming
  • Try to get their interests through books and online reading
  • Enjoy the magic of getting absorbed in a great story.

When a student because able to judge, analyze, and learn from different texts, world becomes a open book for him. That’s why comprehension is a really big thing to master.

Obstacles That Can Make Comprehension Tricky

If students have a limited vocabulary, the words on the page just don’t make sense. I remember as a kid reading about a character eating ‘succotash’ – I had no clue what that even was. I couldn’t understand the story.

Short attention spans are another huge issue. When students’ minds wander after just 2 paragraphs, comprehension suffers big time. They miss key points and can’t tie ideas together.

Some students also struggle with decoding sounding out words. So reading feels laborious to them. Their brain power goes to figuring out words, not understanding the text.

Plus, students comprehend better when they already know something about the topic. If it’s totally new content, their brains have nothing to anchor to. The new ideas just float out there without connecting. 

Some other comprehension obstacles include:

  • Lack of fluency – choppy reading makes comprehension tough 
  • Not knowing story structure – hard to follow plot when structure is unfamiliar
  • Minimal metacognition – students don’t realize when they don’t understand

The good news is we can work on all of these challenges to boost comprehension. It just need some focused effort to improve 

Helpful Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

OK, now for the fun stuff strategies that really help. Let’s look at each more closely.

Build Vocabulary 

Looking up unfamiliar words together teaches their meanings. Learning common prefixes, suffixes and root words gives students clues to decode new terms. Reading all types of texts widely grows word knowledge, which is so foundational.

Focus on Reading Fluency

Having students do quick reads of short passages builds accuracy, pacing, and inflection. Reading aloud smoothly without stumbling over words frees up mental resources for comprehension. 

Activate Background Knowledge 

Previewing vocabulary and key concepts before reading a book primes the brain’s knowledge networks. Videos and class discussions on the topic get students’ wheels turning too. 

Teach Specific Comprehension Strategies

Model and explain strategies like visualizing descriptions, identifying main ideas, making inferences, summarizing key points, and making predictions. Asking questions is huge too. Walk through examples together, then have students practice applying the strategies with your guidance.

Use Graphic Organizers

Story maps, Venn diagrams, and timelines help organize story elements and details visually. They reveal relationships between ideas.

Foster Discussion 

Literature circles get kids sharing perspectives, debating meanings, and synthesizing ideas from texts. The collaboration is illuminating.

Check for Understanding

Teach kids to constantly monitor if they comprehend what they’re reading. Re-reading confusing parts and asking themselves questions gets comprehension back on track. Checking for understanding improves metacognition.

Match Texts to Reading Level

Students should read books at their “just right” instructional level without too much frustration. Slowly ramp up text complexity as their skills improve. 

Inspire Interest in Reading

Kids devour books about their hobbies, passions, and interests. Guide them toward high-interest texts aligned with their individual personalities and curiosities. Engagement fuels comprehension.

Use Multimedia

Introduce challenging texts with videos, slideshows, or real-world interactions to activate knowledge and give students a mental model. The context boosts comprehension of tough passages.

Check Comprehension Frequently 

Spot check understanding through quick discussions and having students explain concepts in their own words. Redirect any misconceptions right away before they snowball.

Whew, so many awesome strategies to try. Adaptations like reading aloud, using audiobooks, and peer supports can scaffold struggling readers too.

Comprehension takes consistent practice to master, but it unlocks so much for students. With the right tools and encouragement, kiddos can grow leaps and bounds in their ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate texts. Go, students, go.

Payoff of Improved Comprehension 

When students’ reading comprehension improves, they gain independence tackling tougher textbooks, literature, and online reading. Comprehension gives for self driven learning. 

It also builds lifelong literacy that long outlasts school years. Adults continually need to comprehend in daily life – work documents, news, financial statements, legal contracts, and more. Strong childhood reading comprehension pays dividends down the road.

While reading comprehension is complex, teachers and parents can make big strides by:

  • Making comprehension an explicit instructional focus
  • Using proven strategies and scaffolds
  • Addressing each student’s needs and challenges 
  • Being patient – growth happens slowly over time

Solid comprehension opens up a world of opportunity and information. Let’s equip every student with the tools to understand deeply across the disciplines and beyond the classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can parents help improve reading comprehension at home?

Read aloud together and discuss books’ meanings. Pick texts on kids’ hobbies and passions to spark interest. Boost vocabulary by teaching new words in context. Ask open-ended questions for deeper thinking. Be a reading role model by sharing what you read

How long does it take to improve reading comprehension? 

Expect gradual improvement over months/years of focused instruction, support, and practice with different text types. Growth rates depend on students’ abilities and prior skills.

What reading skills provide the foundation for comprehension?

Decoding skills, vocabulary, fluency, and background knowledge are needed first. Comprehension instruction can start early but expands once foundational skills are solid.

Is strong reading comprehension needed for all subjects?

Absolutely. Comprehension helps students access content knowledge in science, history, math, literature and beyond through classroom texts. It enables self-directed learning.

What reading challenges most impact comprehension?

Vocabulary gaps, poor memory, lack of fluency, decoding issues, and attention difficulties can all interfere with deep comprehension. Addressing these precursor skills aids comprehension.

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