How to Encourage Reading Comprehension in 3 Key Steps

Enrichment Therapies

May 25, 2022

young boy reading book with speech language pathologist

By: Meghan Randig, M.A., CCC-SLP

As your child moves on through early elementary school, they will make the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Parents can foster the development of comprehension and set a framework for how their children “learn” from the words they are reading. 

1. Before You Open the Book

Even before the first page is turned, stop to examine the book’s cover. What pictures does your child see? What does the title say? What past experiences can you reference to set the stage for what you are about to read? Practice making predictions, or guesses, about what you think may happen in this story. Making a prediction automatically gives reading the book a purpose, and you’ll have to finish the book in order to find out if your guess materialized. Establishing a purpose will help your young reader stay engaged. 

2. While You Read 

The first few sentences or pages of a book will often answer basic “who, what, where” questions that help establish the characters and setting. Point these story elements out to your child and tie them to personally relevant experiences. As you get deeper into the story, point out any emotions the characters may feel and talk about “why” they feel that way. Practice story retelling and sequencing by summarizing what has happened so far. Maybe your child will change their first prediction based on new information. Check for understanding of new vocabulary words by asking your child to explain the meaning or suggesting a synonym. 

3. After You Read 

Model a brief summary of events and ask your child to try and recount the main details. If there is a theme or moral, it is important to explain that as well. You can ask your child, “What did you learn?”, “What was your favorite part?”, “Do you want to read it again?”. Circle back to your initial prediction and discuss how what you guessed would happen was similar or different than what actually happened. 

More Resources

It is important to include informal ‘knowledge-checks’ as you read through a story to make sure your child is actively engaging with the content. If the reading level is too high or low, the engagement will decrease. For early readers, parents play a huge role in modeling an internal dialogue for comprehension! Reading comprehension is important for tracking vocabulary gains, understanding the types of narrative structures and synthesizing information – all necessary for further language development and academic success!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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