We have all been there. We read something, whether it is a whole page or just a paragraph, and we have no idea what we just read. It might as well have been in a different language. Once in a while, it happens because our mind wanders. Sometimes, it’s because we can’t easily break it down to how we can understand it.
As a Reading Specialist, the question I get asked most frequently is how to make a child a more fluent reader. The second most asked question centers on how to improve reading comprehension. Below are a few key tips that will increase your reading comprehension whether you are reading a school textbook, a passage on a test, or just a book for enjoyment.
Reread It Aloud
This tip seems like common sense for most people. Have you ever had your father try putting together a bicycle or something just as complicated? If they don’t understand the instructions, they automatically start rereading it aloud thinking it will make more sense. Some of the time it definitely will. But if your father was like mine, his next step was throwing the bike in anger across the room.
Read Over the Headings
School textbooks are almost always written at a more sophisticated reading level than the students it was meant for. This means that a 4th-grade textbook could be written at a 6th-grade level. The creators of the textbook believe the classroom teacher will fill in the gap by assisting in the understanding of the text.
Instead, try this little comprehension tip. Look for any headings, captions, or titles to the lesson or chapter. These usually will simplify to just a few words what the section is about. Then reread the first paragraph and the last paragraph. These two paragraphs usually summarize the point of the section.
One way to improve reading comprehension used by most classroom teachers is discussion. Discussing the story or the text will open your eyes to things in the literature that maybe you were not aware of. If no one is there to discuss it with, it is okay to discuss it with yourself. Remember, talking aloud can help.
Improve Your Background Knowledge
If you are reading about the most important battles of the Civil War and you do not have much background information on it, then you will probably really struggle with the assignment. Why was the Civil War fought? Which two armies were fighting? When did the Civil War happen? By increasing your background knowledge on a certain subject, you will be able to understand and comprehend much better.
Keep a Dictionary Close By
Sometimes difficult words are the only things keeping you from understanding the text better. School textbook authors are often guilty of using “ten cent words”. These are complicated words they use to make themselves sound more sophisticated while a simple word would be much easier to understand. If you are not sure what the word means when you come across it, look it up in a dictionary. Whether the dictionary is online, in an app, or one you can physically hold in your hands, it does not matter. Just look it up!
Follow these helpful tips when you are reading for school or for pleasure. By knowing how to increase your comprehension, you will be able to tackle even the most difficult text. If you feel you would benefit from even more ways to improve your reading or study habits, iAchieve provides tutoring for all subjects. Their quality tutors will be able to assist you in reaching your goals.
Written by Ryan Crawley
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