Children learning how to read | Comprehension

Helping children make sense of words and sentences | Comprehension

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The main goal of teaching your kids reading is to ultimately help them understand the text. Good readers are better at making sense of what they read.

According to Sadoski (2004), there are different levels of comprehension:

  1. Literal– direct meaning (e.g. the first little pig built a house of straw)
  2. Inferential– understanding what the story meant (e.g. why didn’t the pig allow the wolf in?)
  3. Critical– evaluating the story (e.g. is this story real?)
  4. Application-using knowledge gained from the story to solve problems (e.g. what do you think will happen next?)
  5. Appreciation (e.g. which was your favorite character in the story?)


Here are four strategies to help your child practice comprehending texts:

1. Ask questions

You can follow the acronym CROWD as prompts when reading a book:

Completion prompts – invite children to complete the sentence when reading (e.g. He huffed and he puffed and he ___________.)

Recall prompts – ask direct questions relating to the story (e.g. Who was in the house?)

Open-ended prompts – ask questions relating to the picture (e.g. How do you think the pigs felt?)

What, where, when and why questions prompt

Distancing prompts – relate the story to the children’s experiences (e.g have you ever seen a wolf?)

2. Summarize and retell

Another great way is to encourage your child to retell the story. This can be done orally, written, or through role-play.

3. Matching words to pictures

For children are beginning to decode words, you can begin with words that can be illustrated for them to decode and let them match the words to pictures (e.g. cat, van, mop)

4. Acting out the words

You can also choose words and sentences where they can act it out. (e.g. Hop like a frog, how do dogs bark?)

Final note

Now that you have read through my guide, I would like to reach out to you, the concerned parent. I know how much you want your child to succeed and thrive, which is why you took the time to read this whole series.

I want you to never lose sight of the real goal of teaching your kids how to read. It is ultimately to make your child a lifelong reader. And what will drive your child to keep on reading is not whether he or she learns how to read at five or six. Rather, it is their love for reading.

So take your time. There is no need to rush. Your job now is to spend their early years, cultivating the love of reading first, while building on their foundational reading skills. So have fun and enjoy the process.


Intro: Guide to teaching children reading

Part 1: What your child needs to know before learning to read | Print Awareness

Part 2: 8 Strategies for teaching children the alphabet | Alphabet Knowledge

Part 3: Why your child can’t blend words | Phonemic Awareness

Part 4: How to help your child decode words when reading? | Phonics

Part 5: Helping children make sense of words and sentences | Comprehension

Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read Aloud with Young Children from ReadingRockets
Phonics From A to Z- A Practical Guide by Wiley Blevins
Reading rockets from
Sadoski, M. (2004). Conceptual foundations of teaching reading. New York: The
Guilford Press.

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Children learning how to read | Comprehension

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