How Can I Help With Reading Comprehension?
By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant
My first-grader is having problems with reading comprehension. We received a letter from the school stating that he may not be promoted to second grade because he is not reaching the right levels and goals for his school and grade.
I must say they have a very confusing way of evaluating students now, but in any case, he is not having trouble reading, he is having trouble giving back details, restating, and retelling a story with detail from the beginning, middle and end. He doesn't seem to be focused and honestly doesn't seem interested. But he loves to listen to a story and he reads on his own. He also reads every word he can when he sees one.
He doesn't seem to like to sound out words and does a lot of guessing or relies on memory of other words that look the same and attempts to say those words instead of the right words.
I look forward to hearing back from you with some good suggestions on how to move forward.
Try this game. I call it "I Spy." When you are in the car tell your child to look for a sign or a car or restaurant that starts with a certain sound. For example: You say, "I spy a vehicle that starts with a B and it is yellow". Your child should look around and say, "I spy a school bus." This is a game to assist with developing phonetic skills.
Also try to establish a consistent routine for you and your child. Set aside a time every day, at least 15 minutes, to talk with your child. Ask him to show you the homework that he did, and to share with you how his day went at school. After dinner, turn the television off and either read together or separately. If you show him that you read for enjoyment and that television is not as important as a book, he may learn to follow your example.
To further encourage reading at home, get a library card for each family member. Make plans to visit the library, or a local book store, as part of your family time. Make it a positive family activity and get a treat afterward. Act as a role model by checking out a book for yourself and then let your child see you reading it. Help your child pick out books that interest him at his reading level. Check with his teacher for a suggested list of book titles and authors. Get a calendar of special events that are held at the library and make a point to visit during those times.
To create a stronger reader try these simple strategies as suggested by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Invite your child to read with you everyday. You can play a game where he reads a sentence and you read the next one. As he gains confidence, try having him read a page and you read the next one until he can do it on his own.
- Read your child's favorite book over and over. The more you read to him, the better reader he will become.
- Stop and ask about the pictures and about what is happening in the story.
If these strategies are not succeeding, meet with the teacher or maybe the reading specialist, if your child's school has one on staff. Get their suggestions and seek their advice. The skills he seems to be lacking are important ones and as stories get longer and fewer pictures appear, your son may exhibit further difficulty and frustration. Remember, you are your child's best teacher. That is why it is important to act as a team and make plans, so your child reaches full expectations for being a good reader.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.