Mom-to-Mom Support/How do I improve my daughter’s reading comprehension?

How do I improve my daughter’s reading comprehension?

Mom and daughter homeschooling at the kitchen table


My third grade child is a good reader. The problem, however, is her comprehension level. When she is finished reading a selection, she cannot answer any of the comprehension questions, and seems to have not even grasped the most basic ideas of the story. I have even tried making her read the entire story all over again, and she still is no better off…..just more frustrated, but she does have a great attitude and really tries……help!.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your question!

It is usually around grade 4 that reading comprehension is emphasized. It is usually around this age that children’s cognitive reasoning has developed to the point that comprehension becomes easier. Therefore, at this point I wouldn’t worry too much about her comprehension level. However, reading comprehension doesn’t only come with age but can also be developed by the teacher.

Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful as you work on the reading comprehension selections with her.

  • A method called the Think-Aloud method is effective. In this process, the student pauses at the end of each paragraph and tells or writes down what she is thinking.
  • Make predictions in the story, and check to see if her predictions were right.
  • Draw comparisons between the text and her own life. “How would you feel if you were this character?” “How is this character most like you?” “How is she not like you?”
  • Think about unfamiliar words, and relate them to words that she already knows.
  • Have her restate the author’s point.

Ask her questions on several levels. These questions will encourage her to think about what she is reading.

  1. Factual questions: What happened in the story? What was the character’s name? These questions might begin with “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where.”
  2. Thinking questions: What was the author saying? What message is the author trying to tell you? What does the author want you to believe? This is a good place to include “why” questions.
  3. Connecting questions: How does the text connect with your own life? What do you think about…? If you were… would you feel?

I’m glad that your daughter still has a great attitude about reading. This is important to foster. Frustration is usually a sign that she probably needs a little time to relax with reading. I would encourage her to read past favorite stories and then talk about them with you. You can ask her questions about what she has read in a very relaxed and non-pressured environment.

You can work with comprehension in other subject areas, as well. For instance, if you go on a field trip, you can have her talk about what she saw, what she enjoyed the most, and what she thought about the trip. She doesn’t necessarily have to write it out every time. Talking about it with you can work just as well, and takes off the pressure of writing it out all the time.

God bless you and your family!
Laura Corrigan

About Laura Corrigan

Laura Corrigan is a mother of five. She was homeschooled through high school and received her teaching certificate from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has also homeschooled her own children.