Comprehension support for struggling readers is critical for teachers, parents, and tutors. Building background knowledge, developing vocabulary skills, enhancing reading comprehension strategies, employing active reading strategies, engaging in close reading, providing a supportive environment and materials, and encouraging reflective thinking are key strategies that support our struggling readers.
Comprehension is the reading component that allows individuals to understand and make meaning from text. For struggling readers, developing strong comprehension skills can be a challenging task.
However, with the right strategies and techniques, it is possible to support and enhance the comprehension abilities of struggling readers. This blog post will explore various approaches and provide practical tips to help struggling readers improve their comprehension skills.
Building Background Knowledge
- Introduce Pre-Reading Activities:
- Engage in discussions about the topic or theme of the text.
- Activate prior knowledge and make connections to personal experiences.
- Use Graphic Organizers:
- Employ graphic organizers such as concept maps, Venn diagrams, or KWL charts.
- Encourage students to organize their thoughts and make connections between ideas.
Introducing pre-reading activities is a valuable strategy for building background knowledge in struggling readers. By engaging in discussions about the topic or theme of the text, students are encouraged to actively participate and express their thoughts and opinions. Activating prior knowledge and connecting to personal experiences help students relate to the text.
Using graphic organizers, such as concept maps, Venn diagrams, or KWL charts, provides visual representations that assist students in organizing their thoughts, identifying relationships between ideas, and identifying gaps in their understanding. These tools support comprehension by promoting active engagement and facilitating the connection of new information to existing knowledge.
Developing Vocabulary Skills
- Teach Context Clues:
- Help struggling readers use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.
- Practice identifying context clues in sentences and passages.
- Use Word Walls:
- Create a word wall in the classroom with key vocabulary words.
- Encourage students to refer to the word wall when reading and writing.
Developing vocabulary skills is necessary for improving comprehension in struggling readers. Teaching students how to use context clues effectively enables them to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words within the context of the text. By practicing the identification of context clues in sentences and passages, students become more adept at inferring the purpose of the text and expanding their vocabulary.
Another helpful strategy is using word walls, where key vocabulary words are displayed in the classroom. Encouraging students to refer to the word wall while reading and writing promotes word recognition and reinforces the connection between spoken and written language. Word walls serve as visual reminders and support students in accessing and using vocabulary effectively, enhancing their overall comprehension skills.
Enhancing Reading Comprehension Strategies
- Previewing and Predicting:
- Teach students to preview the text by skimming headings, subheadings, and illustrations.
- Guide them to make predictions about the content based on the previewed information.
- Questioning Techniques:
- Teach students how to ask questions before, during, and after reading.
- Encourage them to seek answers within the text and make inferences.
- Guide struggling readers to create mental images while reading.
- Help them draw or sketch what they visualize to aid comprehension.
- Teach students how to identify a text’s main idea and key details.
- Guide them to condense the information into a concise summary.
- Making Connections:
- Encourage students to make connections between the text and their own experiences, other books, or the world.
- Help them understand how these connections enhance comprehension.
Previewing and predicting, questioning techniques, visualizing, summarizing, and making connections are essential for supporting comprehension in struggling readers. Teaching students to preview the text by skimming headings, subheadings, and illustrations helps activate prior knowledge and set expectations for reading. By making predictions based on the previewed information, students engage with the text and develop hypotheses about its content.
Questioning techniques enable students to interact with the text actively. Teaching them how to ask questions before, during, and after reading encourages critical thinking and helps them seek answers and make inferences. Visualizing involves guiding struggling readers to create mental images while reading, enhancing their understanding of the text. Drawing or sketching what they envision further aids comprehension.
Summarizing teaches students to identify the main idea and key details, promoting concise and focused understanding. Making connections helps students relate the text to their own experiences, other books, or the world, deepening their comprehension and fostering a broader understanding of the text’s relevance.
Active Reading Strategies
- Teach students to underline, highlight, or jot down notes while reading.
- Encourage them to mark important information, key ideas, and questions.
- Reciprocal Teaching:
- Implement reciprocal teaching strategies, where students take turns leading discussions.
- Practice predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing together.
Annotation and reciprocal teaching are effective techniques for supporting comprehension in struggling readers. Teaching students to annotate while reading, such as underlining, highlighting, or jotting down notes, helps them actively engage with the text.
Students can focus on significant elements and reinforce their understanding by marking important information, key ideas, and questions. Reciprocal teaching strategies involve students taking turns leading discussions in small groups or with a partner. They practice predicting what will happen next, clarifying confusing parts, questioning the text to deepen understanding, and summarizing the main points together.
This collaborative approach enhances comprehension skills, encourages critical thinking, and allows students to participate in learning actively.
Engaging in Close Reading
- Focus on Text Structure:
- Teach students to identify different text structures such as cause and effect, compare and contrast, or problem and solution.
- Help them understand how recognizing text structure aids comprehension.
- Analyze Author’s Purpose:
- Guide struggling readers to consider the author’s intent and message.
- Discuss how understanding the author’s purpose helps comprehend the text.
Understanding text structure and analyzing the author’s purpose are valuable strategies for supporting comprehension in struggling readers. By teaching students to identify different text structures, such as cause and effect, compare and contrast, or problem and solution, they better understand how information is organized within a text. Recognizing text structure enhances comprehension by providing a framework for managing and connecting ideas.
Similarly, guiding students to analyze the author’s purpose helps them uncover the underlying intent and message of the text. By discussing the author’s motivations and goals, students develop a more nuanced understanding of the text, supporting their comprehension. Understanding text structure and the author’s purpose empowers struggling readers to approach texts with a critical mindset and extract meaning more effectively.
Provide Supportive Environment and Materials
- Read Alouds:
- Read aloud to struggling readers, modeling good reading habits and strategies.
- Discuss the text together and ask comprehension-related questions.
- Leveled Texts:
- Provide appropriately leveled texts that match the reader’s ability.
- Gradually increase the complexity of the texts as their comprehension skills improve.
- Multisensory Materials:
- Utilize multisensory materials such as manipulatives, visuals, or audio resources to engage different senses and enhance comprehension.
Incorporating read-aloud, leveled texts, and multisensory materials are effective strategies for supporting comprehension in struggling readers. Read-alouds provide a valuable opportunity to model good reading habits and techniques, allowing students to observe how fluent reading sounds and comprehend the text. By discussing the text and asking comprehension-related questions, students can actively engage with the content and deepen their understanding.
Leveled texts are pivotal as they provide appropriate reading material that matches the reader’s ability, ensuring they can comprehend and engage with the text effectively. As students’ comprehension skills improve, gradually increasing the texts’ complexity challenges them to further develop their comprehension abilities.
Additionally, incorporating multisensory materials such as manipulatives, visuals, and audio resources engages different senses, reinforcing comprehension and making the learning experience more interactive and engaging for struggling readers.
Encouraging Reflective Thinking
- Metacognitive Strategies:
- Teach students to think about their thinking (metacognition) while reading.
- Guide them to monitor their comprehension and make adjustments when needed.
- Journaling or Writing Reflections:
- Have struggling readers write about their thoughts, connections, and reflections on the text.
- Encourage them to express their understanding and ask questions.
Metacognitive strategies and journaling/writing reflections are valuable tools for supporting comprehension in struggling readers. They become aware of their comprehension processes by teaching students to think about their thinking or practice metacognition while reading. They learn to monitor their understanding, recognize difficulties, and make necessary adjustments to enhance comprehension.
Journaling or writing reflections allow struggling readers to express their thoughts, connections, and reflections on the text. Through writing, they can solidify their understanding, articulate their insights, and ask questions that deepen their engagement with the material. It also serves as a means of self-reflection and a record of their progress over time.
By incorporating metacognitive strategies and journaling/writing reflections, struggling readers can develop greater self-awareness and actively engage in the comprehension process.
Supporting comprehension in struggling readers requires a multipronged approach that combines various strategies, techniques, and a supportive learning environment. Struggling readers can enhance their understanding of texts by building background knowledge, developing vocabulary skills, and employing reading comprehension strategies.
It is important to provide a range of supportive materials, engage in close reading, and encourage reflective thinking. Remember, each struggling reader is unique, so it is crucial to adapt and tailor the strategies to meet their individual needs. With patience, guidance, and consistent practice, struggling readers can develop strong comprehension skills and unlock a world of knowledge through reading.