How to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills of 3rd-graders?

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From learning to read to reading to learn your child has to go through a process that is crucial in itself. Usually, till 2 nd grade your kid learns to read, they start developing the habit of reading words but as the curriculum proceeds to 3rd grade, it becomes imperative that your kid understands the material they have read. This comprehension process can get quite overwhelming if parents bawl at their lads.

Helping your child understand that the story they are reading isn’t just a long string of words but carefully woven sentences takes a long way to go. Applying their knowledge to understand what the story is about or what the character does becomes pivotal as they grow. Difficulty in comprehension can hinder their ability to study or absorb the course material efficiently. Keeping this in mind, We’ve brought this post explaining prerequisites, strategies, and investment requirements for improving the reading comprehension skills of little readers, especially up to 3rd grade students


Prerequisites of Good Reading Comprehension Skills

  1. Decoding skills – The process of interpretation and translation of any read line by a kid is called decoding. Toddlers lacking these skills can be helped by allowing them to practice later mentioned strategies.
  2. Fluency – Having a decent fluency while reading can do wonders as kids don’t have to stress about reading it correctly. They can focus on the next step i.e understanding the meaning.
  3. Vocabulary – Proficiency with daily words can again boost their chances of tackling comprehension difficulty. Let them know what different words mean and symbolize.
  4. Background knowledge – Kids love to connect whatever they read to their life, encourage this habit so that they see some common ground between the material they are learning and things they have experienced. For example, if the story was about a lost pet ask them whether they have had such an incident and how did that make them feel? Do they think they can relate to that kid’s sadness?

Strategies To Improve Reading Comprehension Skills of 3rd Graders

reading comprehension for 3rd graders
  • Study clues and signs: Help your kid find the exact details of the scene by asking him to decode. For example, if the character has an umbrella or a raincoat before he/she goes out, stop them from proceeding further and try asking them ‘what do you think the weather must be?’ using this method can help them build a background of the story along with the action that is happening in front.
  • Loud for the people in the back: Ask them not to read in their mind, reading loudly benefits them in various ways. Since they are reading it they tend to go slower and that gives them a high chance of understanding the word. Hearing the word can immensely help them comprehend the meaning of the said word. This practice also helps them in remembering the words as words spoken continuously can eliminate the problem of forgetting words. This strategy is not only for these little ones, you should tag along too. A good way of doing this is reading in unison. Kids enjoy as they can form a rhythm with you and such small changes in activities can keep their interest floating.
  • Questioning them: An effective way of doing this is constantly asking them questions, not just post-reading sessions but before they start-during the reading-after the session. It adds up to 2 things. One they don’t get bored, the activity becomes interactive, and second, they start learning about the background knowingly or unknowingly. Be wise not to ask questions that end with either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, train them to answer open-ended questions. Ask them questions like ‘is the character right, what do you think about it?’ ‘Is the author trying to tell you something?’ ‘What would you do if you were there?”. This technique not only helps with understanding the story but also helps them think proactively about the story.
  • Putting outside, inside their head: The outside world is their playpen, utilize it so they can form a connection to the word when they come across it. For example, when your toddler knows what a bus looks like it becomes comparatively easy for them to associate the word bus to the actual thing. Therefore, when they finally read a paragraph/story that is taking place on a bus they can easily come to terms with what the line means.
reading comprehension for 3rd graders
  • Providing the right books: It is always a big leap when children switch from reading picture books to lesser pictorial more word-heavy textbooks, but deciding which book is correct is as important as switching them. Too hard books can make them frustrated and they will simply read it as is without comprehending therefore starting with simpler texts and gradually moving is the right thing to do.
  • Twice is nice: When reading, a common thing that stops them from understanding what they have read is a lack of multi-focus vision. Kids tend to focus on reading each line till the full stop, their main goal is to read the line till the full stop and in this process, they utterly forget to comprehend what the actual line means. An easy way around this is practicing with them, let them focus on finishing the sentence, after they are done parents should read the same sentence aloud and ask tots to explain the meaning in their own words. This can help them understand what is written very easily.
reading comprehension for 3rd graders
  • Use technology: This is a universally proven fact that kids love screens (not literally but all the parents are with me on this one). Take advantage of this and play them nice educational stories. Make sure they are not just watching moving animated characters or letters, keep pausing the video to ask questions and monitor them. Don’t overdo it to the point that they go fussy.
  • Give incentives and play mini-games: At the end of the day they are a child and nothing beats a good old incentive practice. Get into their psyche and tell them about the incentives they will receive if they pay attention, understand, and work as you tell them to. This incentive can be anything from chocolate to a gold star sticker. Be creative and find out your kids’ interest to use them as incentives later. Play mini-games like letting him quiz you or playing word spelling games.
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Taking Signs Seriously…

An important thing to keep in mind after you have tried the mentioned strategies is to see signs of Dyslexia in them. It can hinder a child’s ability to understand words or even read, in some cases. Keep checking for signs and seek medical help. Consulting an expert in such a situation is the right way about it.

An evaluator will carry a series of tests that will determine the child’s weak and strong areas. This is not a condition that one should frighten about because kids with dyslexia lead a normal life like everyone once they understand themselves correctly.

What’s required for the best outcome?

  • Books and worksheets: Professionals that work in this field have many years of experience which makes it a no brainer to buy books and worksheets they have made and worked on. These books can have different volumes to start and end with. Good pictures, stories, questions all are packed in a tiny worksheet that will ignite your child’s brain comprehension power. You can search the market to find trusted authors that have written these books. Lori Oczkus is one such example. She has a vast variety of books for all graders. Her book- closed reading with paired texts is a good find for our kids with comprehension issues. Make a smart choice of buying such types of books rather than forcing your kids to read heavy texts that they might not even find interesting.
  • Time: Hushing and pushing during such a problem is no way of solving it. Instead of scolding them, put your time and energy into them. Remember, these are developing years, invest your time appropriately and they will thank you later.
  • Bonding with teachers: After you try teaching them at home make sure to talk to their teacher or educator. Give them an idea about your child’s difficulty so that teachers can spend more time teaching them or shadowing them. Educators usually use all such tools but having a conversation might reveal more strategies that you can use for your kid. Never forget to ask for updates, teachers might not come to you every single week so take initiative to reach out to them.
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Few notes before leaving-

It is imperative that you don’t just try one of the following steps once in a while. Using all these steps every day when they are reading or practicing will give you the desired result. Be patient while you carry out these strategies and work your way through them. As parents, learn about your child’s capacity and speed. Don’t force them into this because the result will always be messy and slow. Understand that these are tiny tots, something that we feel easy is 10x hard for them to begin with. Don’t demotivate or discourage them. Limit the distractions by putting digital devices away. Keep tracking your child’s progress as time passes.


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