Signs & Symptoms

Reading Comprehension

Is your child struggling with reading comprehension?

Reading is one of our first measures of academic success. If your child does not read well, it is likely that this challenge has been a source of stress for your family.

Some children appear to be reading fine, but do not understand what they read. These children are known as “good decoders.” It may seem more like your child views words as algorithms to be decoded than messages to be understood.

Children who struggle with reading comprehension may show the following signs:

First, they tend to fail to remember what they read. As they are reading aloud, they may appear to understand, but cannot recall much of the story when asked comprehension questions.

Second, they tend to “miss the point.” They cannot tell you the main idea or answer a question like, “What’s the most important thing that happened in the story?’”

Third, children with poor comprehension may not remember important characters. Children with good comprehension can tell you what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of a story, using a logical sequence.

In comparison, children with poor comprehension struggle with this skill. Finally, children who have inadequate reading comprehension skills tend not to integrate what they read; that is, that they fail to put the elements of the story together into a coherent whole.

What do challenges with Reading Comprehension look like?

  • Having trouble answering comprehension questions?
  • Reading okay but not remembering what he reads?
  • Reading a whole story but not recalling any characters?
  • Reading aloud okay but forgetting the main idea?
  • Getting frustrated with homework?
  • Struggling more than classmates?
  • Reading below his or her grade level?

Why is Reading Comprehension happening?

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the material that one is reading. When reading fiction, this skill includes comprehending the content of the text, such as the actions, characters, and plot sequence. For nonfiction, reading comprehension includes understanding and remembering of the information presented. People with reading comprehension issues may have trouble answering questions about what they read, even though they may sound out words well. Individuals with very low reading comprehension, in spite of adequate education and evidence-based intervention, are generally considered to have a specific learning disorder, with impairment in reading. This issue may arise in elementary school but can be a challenge into adulthood.

How can I manage Reading Comprehension at home?

If your child does not remember what he or she reads, it is important to consider intervention, early and often.

Reading comprehension has oft been defined in the literature as the most important academic skill. [2]

With that in mind, it is extremely important to make sure that your child not only can read well, but can understand what he or she reads. If your child is struggling, consider the following:

Consult the school: If you are concerned that your child is not understanding what he or she reads, reach out to the teacher. The teacher may have assessments that he or she can do to find out where your child’s skills are, in comparison to peers. Your child’s teacher will likely have a variety of comprehension strategies you can work with your child on at home.

Practice: Reading with your child can be one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of his or her school career. When reading, stop frequently to ask your child some of the questions mentioned above. Ask your child who the characters are, what the setting is, and the main idea of the story. Regularly stop to find out if your child is following along as you read together.

Evaluation: If your child continues to struggle in spite of intervention at school and at home, an evaluation may be necessary. A clinical or school psychologist can assess your child’s intelligence (IQ) to determine if there are cognitive factors that interfere with your child’s reading. In addition, diagnostic reading tests can be conducted. Most importantly, if your child is diagnosed with a learning disability in reading, your child should be considered for reading supports at school, either through intervention or through specialized instruction on an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

A model of imagery-related comprehension skills

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Reading Comprehension?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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