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How to Help Your Child With Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is one of the most important life skills for early readers to learn. When your child struggles with reading comprehension, it may lead to frustration, poor grades, and resistance to reading. With regular practice, your child can learn the skills needed to improve his or her reading comprehension skills and become a strong, confident reader.

What is reading comprehension?

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning of written text. To comprehend a text, a child needs to be able to accurately decode words, make connections, and think critically.

What are the signs of a reading comprehension problem?

Knowing how to spot the signs of a reading comprehension problem is the first step to help your child become a successful reader. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Cannot summarize the story or answer questions about the characters or events

  • Struggles to make connections between the story and real life examples

  • Has difficulty telling the difference between important and minor details

If you have noticed any of these signs, your child may be struggling with reading comprehension.

Why is my child struggling with reading comprehension?

There are many reasons your child may be struggling with reading comprehension. Here are some common causes of reading comprehension problems:

  • Limited Vocabulary: Your child may struggle with reading comprehension if he or she does not know the meaning of enough words.

  • Trouble Decoding: In order to understand the meaning of the words, a child must be able to pronounce each word correctly. When a child is putting a lot of energy into sounding out the words, it becomes harder to focus on understanding the meaning.

  • Lack of Instruction: Reading comprehension is not a skill that will come naturally for many children and will need to be strategically taught by a parent or educator.

How can I improve my child’s reading comprehension?

There are many ways to help improve your child's reading comprehension. Here are 5 strategies you can try at home.

Preview the Book

Before you start reading, skim the book for 3-5 unfamiliar words and look up their definitions. This activity will help improve your child’s reading comprehension by building vocabulary knowledge.

Ask Open-ended Questions

Be sure to ask your child open-ended questions before, during, and after reading. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no so your child will need to verbally process the details of the reading. Before reading, ask your child what he or she already knows about the topic. During reading, find a few places to stop and ask your child to retell certain events or information. After reading, ask your child to summarize the events of the text and make connections to another story they read or real life.

Choose the Right Books

Be sure to choose books that are on your child’s reading level. If a book is too difficult for your child to read, it will distract from comprehension. An easy way to determine your child’s reading level is to open a book to the first page. If your child reads more than 5 words incorrectly, the book is most likely too difficult. Also choose books that your child is interested in reading! Children are more willing to read what they are reading.


Encourage your child to read the text more than once before responding to any follow up questions. This will help your child to pick up any information he or she missed the first time. Remind your child to revisit the story while answering questions instead of trying to answer the questions from memory. You can give your child a highlighter or sticky notes to mark important information or specific answers to questions.

Hire an Online Reading Tutor

If you have been trying to help your child with reading comprehension and you are not noticing any improvement, it may be time to hire a professional reading tutor to boost your child’s reading skills. An experienced reading tutor will be able to identify what reading comprehension skills your child needs help with and improve your child’s reading comprehension with targeted practice.

Do you need help teaching your child reading comprehension?

Root Reading Tutors can help your child learn to read and comprehend on grade level through one-on-one online tutoring sessions with a certified reading teacher. Sign up for a free reading assessment today to stop your child’s reading struggle!

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