Fool-Proof Ways to Increase Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension, at first sight may not seem like the most popular subject in the world, yet it's probably one of the most important. Children and adults alike need to comprehend what they read in order to learn, to take out the meaning of what they are reading so that they will be able to use that information effectively. At first, reading comprehension may seem like a “no-brainer”. Reading may seem like a very passive activity but in reality in order to increase reading comprehension and to be a good reader, one must be an active reader.

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There are many strategic ways to increase reading comprehension and become an active reader, such as searching for connections between what we know and the new information we are reading, asking questions about the material, drawing inferences, and learning to distinguish the important ideas. Using your imagination when reading new material can also be extremely helpful. In addition, coding is a very useful tool not only for elementary school-age children but for any reader. When coding, we are, in effect, making notes on our thinking. A wide variety of short text can be used for coding. This can be written on the margin of the text or on sticky notes. It can be anything from a question mark to a “C” to mean confusion.

My elementary reading comprehension lessons can take several forms depending on the student's needs and wants. This can include, of course, homework help. The strategies I use to increase reading comprehension can include text-to-self connections, text-to-text connections, text to world connections, asking questions, visualizing, inferring, synthesizing information and think-aloud. Importantly, questioning is a key method to learn a new subject. It takes the reader forward to understand the reading material as well as to do research on new material.

Let's say a 5th grader has a homework assignment on hurricanes. One of the best ways to learn about the subject would be to ask questions such as, how do hurricanes form? Where do they usually form? In what season? By the same token, if a child is reading new material, questioning can lead to inferential thinking, inferential thinking refers to “reading between the lines.”

Making connections is another excellent way of making meaning of our reading. Let's say a student is reading about how immigrants arrived at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. One of the connections she could make is that she may have already visited Ellis Island, or could even think about a personal story from a relative who may have actually immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. For elementary reading comprehension, it is best to start with what the student is already familiar with. It is easier to make connections when the story is close to their own lives.

Next, visualizing becomes a very important strategy for reading comprehension. If for example, a child reads about a dinosaur having a tooth the size of a banana, he or she should be encouraged to draw a banana to correlate it with the size of the tooth! Artistic responses are always helpful in elementary reading comprehension. To recap, there are valuable strategies to become better readers and as a tutor I can provide excellent ways of teaching a student to achieve his or her potential and increase reading comprehension.

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