Good readers are aware of when they understand and when they don’t. If they have trouble understanding specific words, phrases or longer passages, they use a wide range of problem-solving strategies including skipping ahead, rereading, asking questions, using a dictionary and reading the passage aloud.
Engaged readers monitor how well they understand what they are reading. As they do so they need to:
- Be aware when meaning breaks down.
- Identify what it is they do not understand (word, sentence, paragraph).
- Use appropriate strategies to “fix-up”, to restore meaning.
When reading difficult material they:
- Read more slowly and try to figure out the meaning of the unfamiliar words that are important to understanding.
- Rereading portions of the text.
- Realize that repeated readings of a passage can make it easier to recall important content.
- Recognize they need more context or supporting information.
“A lot of students don’t realize they’ve lost their way when they read. They think if they rush through the words and turn the pages, they’re “getting through it.” They are, but they’re not getting anything out of it. Thinking about reading involves being aware of what your mind does as you create meaning. It’s about turning on the thought process before you read and paying attention while you read.”
– Susan Zimmermann (7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!)
What you can do at home
- When your child isn’t understanding what they are reading, ask them to go back and reread.
- If this doesn’t help ask them then ask them to share what the problem is. Is it a difficult word or do they need more background knowledge to put something into context?
- If they need more background knowledge talk about where they can get this from. Maybe you’re the expert they need to talk to or you could point them to other supporting material to read.