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  • Writer's pictureHello Happy Learner

What is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is simply understanding what we read or is read to us. This understanding is key to enjoying what we read yet is often not given the priority it deserves as we strive to help our little learners become readers.

For young children we can develop reading comprehension skills even before they begin to read. This is one of the many reasons that sharing books together is so important for our little ones. As children begin to read, reading to them remains a key activity for bonding and developing their comprehension.

The most effective way to improve reading comprehension is by talking about the books you read. Try asking questions like the ones on page 7 of your adventure. Try to use a range of closed and open ended questions. Closed questions have a specific answer which is required, such as What is the title of this page? Open ended questions can be seen as the beginning of a conversation. They have a range of possible answers which can help your child develop their thoughts, understanding and reasoning. Both types of questions have a role to play in developing reading comprehension. Closed are useful to help you get to know how much your child understands about the facts of story, whilst open ended questions can help you understand how well your child can apply what they read to their understanding of the world around them.

Asking why. You may have been on the receiving end of these questions from your little one, but asking why is a great way to develop comprehension and the complexity of their answers. Try to get them to explain why they think or feel that way.

Evidence. This is one of the key areas that children struggle with when it comes to Year 6 exams. It is a skill that we can develop from the start. When children give their answers encourage them to explain why, referring back to the pictures (at this age) or from the written text that they read or hear (as they reach late KS1 and into KS2). By Year 6, they will not be able to use the pictures provided to help explain their answers in exams.

Making links. As you read and go about your day to day lives highlight the links between what you read and your experiences of the world around you. Our adventures try to provide examples of this by linking what the children read in the picture book to the activities they do. Encourage children to make links between books they read (or are read to them) or between books and TV/movies they watch. For example, In Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling the fact that Harry is an orphan is a common theme in many stories where young people have perilous adventures such as the movie Frozen. Reading comprehension skills can be developed in lots of different ways not just from the books you read together. Watching TV or movies together can be a wonderful opportunity to develop higher level comprehension skills. For example, use open ended questions to discuss what is happening, how the characters might be feeling, how you would each feel in those situations, what might happen if the situation changed.

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