Comprehension should always be the chief concern when teaching reading. What good is reading if the child has no understanding of what is read? In this article I will outline key reading comprehension strategies and show how they should be used.
A reading comprehension strategy that I have found to be highly effective is to do vocabulary work before hand. You can introduce children to new words. Have them break them up into syllables. Put the new words on flashcards. You can also have children find out the meaning of these words in the dictionary, with all this groundwork, once you get to the text it will be smooth sailing.
1. Context Clues – When you are reading, suppose you come across a word that you have never seen or heard before. If you understand the other words, sentences, and paragraphs that come before and after the new word, you will be able to figure out what that new word means.
Example: Two friends met and had a persiflage over lunch. They talked about seeing a movie, going shopping, or going to the beach. Can you tell that ‘persiflage’ means light, frivolous talk? The two friends did not discuss anything of major importance.
2. Cause and Effect – We all know that actions have consequences. Think of the actions as causes and the effects as their consequences.
Example: The Miami Heat want the fans to wear white during the NBA Finals games. As a result, the seats in the arena are filled with fans wearing White Hot shirts!
WHY are the fans wearing White Hot shirts? They are wearing white shirts BECAUSE the Miami Heat requested it. When you ask a why question (the effect), you want to know the reason (the cause). Clue phrases that indicate a cause is to follow include ‘as a result’ and ‘in order to’.
3. Drawing Conclusions – Sometimes you will be asked a question about information that has not been given. There will be enough clues, however, for you to imply the meaning.
Example: Marvin was exuberant that his parents were allowing him to stay up past his bedtime so he could see the fireworks at a nearby park. Luckily, there would be a great view from his own patio! The fireworks were scheduled to start at 11:30 PM but, by 10:30, Marvin was feeling extremely tired. When he woke up the next morning, Marvin asked his mother why the fireworks had been cancelled.
Although the information is not directly given, you can draw the conclusion that Marvin was so tired that he fell asleep and missed the fireworks.
4. Sequencing – As the old saying goes, “Put one step in front of the other.”
When you are putting directions or events in sequential order, you start at the beginning and go step-by-step, in a logical or chronological order, to reach a conclusion. Young children just learning this skill begin their sentences with First, Next, Then, and Last; older children do not necessarily need those key words.
Reading fluency is the ability to read quickly and accurately. A person with good reading fluency is able to comprehend more because they instantly group and recognize words. Doing this instantly frees up the brain for comprehending what is actually being read. Good reading fluency will help people learn more and excel at school or on the job. It is common for people to struggle with reading fluency. There are, however, specific training programs that allow an individual to strengthen their reading fluency.