As a teacher and a parent of two children, this question has come to my mind many times over the years. As an avid reader, reading comprehension always came easy to me. Imagine my surprise when my son began to have trouble with reading comprehension. I had to step outside of myself, and get to the root of the problem. Working with my son prepared me for helping other students overcome obstacles to reading comprehension.
In my experience there a number of reasons why students may struggle with understanding what they read.
Reading is an Active Process
What many readers fail to realize is that reading is not a passive process. Readers must be actively engaged in the process BEFORE turning the first page. Encourage your reader to practice making predictions based on the book title and cover information. This simple action begins activating background knowledge that will help your reader as he or she begins to make connections to the text during reading.
Inside of each reader is a small voice inside of our minds that should be actively interacting with the text. Struggling readers may:
- Not recognize this voice
- Hear the voice, but it is simply reading the words
- Hear the voice, but it is full of distracting thoughts
Have your learner begin to pay attention to the voice inside of their minds. We can teach that voice to make predictions, ask questions, and summarize the reading to ensure active reading is occurring. By following these steps, students are being actively engaged in the reading. If readers are engaged, they are more like to remember what they read.
Readers need to read a text more than once.
Readers may struggle because they ONLY read a text ONCE. For many of us, reading material must be read at least twice to solidify understanding. Even as adults, we need to read and re-read material to fully grasp it. We must ensure our young readers do the same.
The first read is for basic understanding. The second read is a close read. It is in the close read that we look for theme, author’s tone, determine purpose, and other high order thinking aspects of a reading.
If there are multiple choice items that follow a reading, readers need to go back and find text evidence to support their answer choice as time allows. Many readers struggle on assessments because they do not go back and find the answers to a text.
Reading comprehension does not have to be a struggle. With intentional practice and ample opportunities each learner can improve. If your learner needs help, schedule an appointment with me now. You can also find several reading courses I offer here.
Reading is an active process.
Readers must listen to and train their reading voice while reading.
Readers must make predictions, ask questions, and summarize texts as reading to increase comprehension.
Readers must read a text more than once to fully gain a deep understanding of a text.