Reading Comprehension – Our Journey

The idea that the teacher was going to be able to help my child with his reading comprehension problem during the day was an unrealistic expectation! We had some amazing teachers. We had small class sizes with only 11-13 students in a classroom. These teachers were Classically trained and could dissect a piece of literature like a neurosurgeon and a brain. They were good!

Stanford 10 Standardized Test - 2014

       Stanford 10 Standardized Test – 2014

But my son had a problem when he read. He was able to read the words, but didn’t understand what he was reading. He couldn’t remember what he read. He couldn’t answer all the comprehension questions accurately. He couldn’t tell me what happened in the chapter. Something was just not clicking.

My son’s reading comprehension wasn’t going to get better on it’s own. We had to address the problem immediately.

#1 Understand the learning environment

  • How they read in class impacts reading comprehension. Is the teacher going around the room and your student only has to read when he is called on? If so, he might only be reading when it is his turn and focusing on something else when it’s not his turn. If the teacher isn’t reminding them to pay attention when someone else is reading, your student’s attention may be someone where else when it’s not their turn to read.
  • The activity in the room may impact reading comprehension. Are there multiple reading groups going on at the same time? Is it noisy? Introverted learners get their energy from settled and quiet environments.
  • Can your student refer back to the book when answering the questions? Or must they complete the questions from memory?

So now, I have a clear picture of reading time in the classroom. Now I know how to pray.

#2 Let us pray!

  • I told my student he has a problem in understanding what he reads and answering questions about what he reads and we are going to work on it until it gets better. “Mommy will be right there with you.”
  • I taught him to seek a power bigger and stronger than us…”We are going to ask God to help you too.” Before reading at home, school, homework, test etc. he was to say this prayer.

“God, help me understand what I read and God, please help me remember what I read. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

I had to lead him in the prayer constantly until he did it on his own…before I dropped him off at school, before we did homework, before we read at night.

#3 Faith without works is dead…GET TO WORK!

Stanford 10 Standardized Test - 2015

           Stanford 10 Standardized Test – 2015

  • We went back to the basics! I explained to him the reasons an author writes (to inform, to entertain, to convince, to persuade, or to teach the reader something). We discussed characters, settings, plot, etc. Check out this website to explain the different parts of a story.
  • We went over all questions missed on worksheets, quizzes and test and corrected them in writing. You will need the book or text for this.
  • On the weekends, I Google’d free reading comprehension worksheets one grade below him and we worked through those. I selected worksheets that were one grade lower so not to frustrate him.
  • Ask the teacher to send the book home each day. If we couldn’t get the book from school, I went and got it from the library (make sure to get the same version). We re-read whatever they read in class. I would ask questions during our reading time. For example: Who is Jane talking to? Where were they going? Why did Robert feel sad?
  • When studying for a test or re-reading, I had him draw pictures that represented the story to help with memorization. If Suzie was sad…he would draw a sad face. If they were going home…he would draw a house.
  • Put a pencil or small beanbag in his hand while he reads. Some of our kids are kinesthetic learners and just need to touch something while they are reading.
  • Check the worksheets they have to do. Is there enough room to write the answer? My oldest student wouldn’t answer the complete question because there wasn’t enough space to write the complete answer. I simply told him to get some paper out and write the answers there or turn the worksheet on the back and finish…and neatness counts.
  • Read as much as possible

We aren’t done yet, but we are working hard to perform above grade level in reading comprehension.  Hope this helps! Comment below if you have any questions or additional suggestions for our readers.

Example Email to Teacher

Here is a quick email I sent my son’s teacher. Feel free to cut and paste it and tailor it to your circumstance.

Hi Mrs. Teacher,

Looking over Bobby Joe’s graded work, I notice he needs some help answering questions in complete sentences on his reading worksheets. We will be working hard to address this weakness. I would like to spend some time correcting and practicing how to answer these types of questions with him this weekend. Would you allow us to borrow a copy of the book they are currently reading? I tried to find it in the library and they did not have the chapter version that you all are using.

Thank you!

Parents & Teachers of 0-4yr. Olds

Read, read, read!!

Beyond all those wonderful books in the picture, add the Bible to your reading list.  Read the word of God to your baby in your womb, to the baby in her crib, and to the baby and toddler during awake time.  Reading from the word of God builds your child’s spirit and helps with their development of vocabulary too!  One of my favorites is Psalm 139 (New Living Translation).  

“Start reading chunky books to your baby in her crib. Give her sturdy books that she can look at alone. (A torn book or two is a small price to pay for literacy.) Read picture books, pointing at the words with your finger. Read the same books over and over; repetition builds lit­eracy (even as it slowly drives you insane). Read longer books without pic­tures while she sits on your lap or plays on the floor or cuts and pastes and colors. Read books onto tapes, along with the child’s comments, so that she can listen to you read over and over again. Get an infant-­proof tape recorder so that she can listen to you reading, singing, talking, telling stories, and reciting poems while she plays in her crib.

After you read to your toddler, ask her questions about the story. What did the gingerbread boy do when the old woman tried to eat him? When the dogs got to the top of the tree at the end of Go, Dog, Go, what did they find? What happened after Bananas Gorilla stole all the bananas?”  (Excerpt for Well Trained Mind)  What happened when the caterpillar at all that food (in the Very Hungry Caterpillar)?  What does the Old Lady whisper (in Good Night Moon)?

Asking questions about the story sets a strong foundation for reading comprehension.

4 replies
  1. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    This is an excellent blog! How you supported your son in his development, both in reading comprehension and spiritually, is a great example for all parents to follow. Thanks for sharing!

    • Melanie
      Melanie says:

      Thank you for your kind words! Every student is different, but my hope is that these tips will give the reader the insight they need to create a plan to help their learner. Success is in the time and work put in!

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Melanie!!!! This. Right. Here. Thanking God for you and His infinite wisdom thru you. My 7th grader reads words very well (decoding) but he struggles to answer comprehension questions. In the past, my husband and I would pray with him during standardized tests weeks but it has never been consistently…a life style. I work with him at home as much as possible but I feel like it’s not enough…thus my decision to homeschool. When we read and discuss together, he gets it. When he’s on his own…he lacks the confidence to use the strategies I taught him. Prayer IS everything.

    • Melanie
      Melanie says:

      High five to you for homeschooling! Reading comprehension is an interesting beast. There is no one way to build mastery, but it just begins to click after putting in the extra time and effort. Prayer indeed IS everything…for the teacher and the student! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a comment