Reading Comprehension for Preschoolers. 5 ways to help your child (Plus FREE kids eBook app!)

Jun 19, 2012

understanding text, teach kids how to read

 Reading Comprehension for preschoolers and beyond.

5 Steps to help your child understand the meaning of text at home.

I often feel as though much of the focus on young children is about learning to "read." And by that, I mean learning to "decode text". In order to read you have to be able to decode text but sometimes the focus is too heavy on decoding the text, and not enough on understanding the meaning of the text.

Before children can read independently it's important they work on their reading comprehension. Lucky it's so easy to help your child. Here's how:

1. Start with the front of the book. 
Read the title and ask your child, "What do you think this book is about?" "What do you think might happen in the story?" etc.

2. Understand the characters. 
When characters are introduced to the story, make sure your child knows who they are. Sounds very basic but you'd be surprised how often children aren't aware of who is being talked about. Especially if there are multiple characters. This is as easy as asking, "Who is Wolf?" "Can you point to Wolf" "What does Wolf look like?" etc.

3. Check for understanding of new/different words. 
While children are still developing their vocabulary, they will be presented with new words all the time. When reading these words, it's a good idea to check if your child knows what they mean. If you've just read, "Donkey was relaxing in a beautiful meadow" for example, you might want to check if your child knows a) what "relaxing" means and b) what a meadow is. Explain the meanings if they were unaware and re-read the sentence.

4. Question the text.
While reading the story you can gauge your child's understanding by asking conceptual questions. For example, if you have just read "Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wolf appeared looking very hungry!" You could say, "Oh no! What do you think is going to happen?" or "The wolf is hungry. I wonder what he might try and eat?" Once your child has responded, you could say, "Let's find out" and continue to read the story.

5. Review and Retell the Story.
When you and your child have finished reading a story, the easiest way to test for comprehension is to ask your child to tell you what happened in the story. You may need to remind them of certain details etc. 
Asking leading questions like, "What was your favourite part of the story?" or "Did you like that story? Why/Why not?"  "What happened to the wolf in the story?"etc. is also a great way to see how much of the story your child is understanding or retaining.

The more you practice this with them the better they will get

.. and the earlier you start, the better :)

Click here for a fun activity to help with reading comprehension.

MeMeTales have a great FREE app that comes complete with 20 free eBooks!  Download the free app for your phone, tablet or kindle and you can read the books on there. 

Happy reading,
Debs :)

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  1. Nice list!

    One additional suggestion: when it's a favourite book and has been read a number of times, we throw in something that is not part of the story so they can "catch" us at it and narrate the correct storyline. An example would be to say "Today we're reading The Donkey and the Pig." They love to show us how wrong we are, and it helps to improve their listening skills.

  2. The Kindle app is now available for those interested!

  3. These are great tips. Thanks so much for sharing :)

  4. Great tips. I have pinned this to my early literacy board. Thanks for sharing!

  5. so true! text recognition is a major focus...thanks for the reminder!

  6. These are wonderful tips! When I taught fourth grade, we were still working on are right - the earlier you start the better. :)

    1. Thanks Gina. Yes, definitely something that was still being worked on by probably all the levels at our school. Start them young! :D

  7. These are all excellent suggestions. Thanks for linking up to The Children's Bookshelf. I'm pinning this post, I hope to see you again next week!

  8. Some great strategies there. Not too overwhelming or prescriptive. Thanks for sharing.

  9. These are great strategies that I often find myself using without even thinking about them. I love it when something feels so natural and effortless.

  10. Good post An interesting discussion is worth a comment as in this age group children learn quickly and as they grow older they start exploring.
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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.