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Teach Reading Comprehension in Your Homeschool

Your child has learned to read!  You used a great phonics program and now they decode thousands of words and you are done teaching them reading, right?

Nope!  Your children will benefit if you continue to teach reading comprehension in your homeschool until they graduate!  They will learn so much more from what they read if you help them develop their reading comprehension skills as they read more and more complex books over the years.

This does not mean you need some super structured reading comprehension curriculum.  In fact, my favorite way to teach reading is through read alouds.  It is how we teach children reading when they are little and it is a great way to continue to teach them to comprehend what they read throughout the elementary, middle school and yes, even the high school years.

Below I share several strategies we can help our children develop.  These are strategies we should use throughout our lives when we read.  So go through them one at a time, but don’t “check them off” after you work on one.  Instead, after you have practiced one of the strategies to the point that it is almost second nature, then pick a new strategy to layer on top.  As your children read more complex books, they will use all of these strategies in new and more complex ways.

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Start A Routine of Read Alouds

Read alouds provide the perfect format for helping our children develop each of the reading comprehension strategies below.  This post shares nine benefits to including read alouds in your homeschool.  You will see some of the strategies below on the list along with a few other benefits that are not even related to reading skills.

And this post will give you concrete strategies for choosing books for read alouds, incorporating read alouds into your homeschool day, and helping your kids focus while you read.  So before you get started on the strategies below, take some time to become comfortable with read alouds as part of your daily homeschool routine.  Some families like to start their day with a read aloud.  Personally, I like to do our read alouds after lunch.  Pick what works best for your family!

Reading Comprehension Strategy #1: Visualization

Once you have a routine of read alouds established, start with a fun strategy. Making a movie in our mind while we read is a great first reading comprehension strategy to practice.  Some children may do this naturally as they read and some may need help developing this skill.  Regardless, almost all children will improve their reading comprehension skills from their current level if you use some of the strategies in this post.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy #1: Visualization showing a girl reading next to a lion.

Strategy #2: Background Knowledge

Connecting what we read to our background knowledge is such an important strategy, I already mentioned it in the post above.  Whenever we read or do anything else for that matter, we bring background knowledge to the book or situation.  Building background knowledge of a topic and then activating that knowledge before reading helps us understand what we read.  One of the great things about this strategy is that everything you do with your child builds background knowledge.  So you can work on this strategy outside of reading and then help your kids connect that knowledge to what they read.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy #2: Background Knowledge showing a girl reading on a stack of books.

Strategy #3: Asking Questions

Teaching our kids to ask questions before and during reading will help them focus in on why they are reading a particular book and what they are learning as they read.  Questions will also keep them turning the pages to find the answers.  Children are born question askers so use this to your advantage to develop this reading comprehension skill.  Here are some details on how to support this strategy.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy #3: Ask Questions showing a boy reading with question marks over his head.

Strategy #4: Drawing Conclusions

As we ask good questions while we read, we will collect clues.  Good comprehension involves drawing conclusions from those clues.  This can be a hard skill for some kids to learn, but it is also a skill that can be worked on outside of reading.  Learn how to look for clues in real life and play some of the games in this post all about drawing conclusions.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy #4: Drawing Conclusions showing a detective looking through a magnifying glass.

Strategy #5: Determining Importance

We take in a lot of information when we read, but is all of it important?  Teaching our kids how to zero in on the most important information in their reading will serve them well for the rest of their lives in many areas beyond reading.  Read this post to learn how to help your children approach reading with the intention of pulling out the most important information.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy 5: Determining Importance showing text with some highlighted in yellow.

Strategy #6: Organizing Ideas

Once you have comprehended what you read and determined which information is the most important, it is time to synthesize or combine all of that information with your background knowledge.  This post shows your four way to organize ideas based on your kids’ ages and what your final purpose is for what you are reading.

Cover for article titled Reading Comprehension Strategy #6: Organizing Ideas showing a notetaking sheet with headings.

Our next post on what to do when kids still run into reading comprehension problems is coming soon…