• Natalie Chama

How Can Your Child Tackle Reading Comprehension?







So your child has found a book they like, they are reading consistently and they can build up their vocabulary for their speaking/writing.

If they are still not in this position as yet, please check out my other blog posts that will help your child to become a consistent reader.

When your child has sharpened their reading skills, it is always a good thing to put it into practice, and prepare them for their future exams.

Top Tips To Tackle Reading Comprehension





  • Read the question carefully....

You may think this sounds obvious but trust me, I have seen many students in the past read the questions and write an answer that doesn't even refer to, or answer the actual question.

  • Highlight Keywords in the question....

This may sound, as your child might say, a little OTT (over the top) LOL! but this will help your child get a clear focus on what information they need to find in the text, so they can answer the question correctly.

E.g How does Shakespeare present Macbeth's 'bloody ambition' in the extract?

You might highlight: 'How' does 'Shakespeare' present 'Macbeth's 'bloody ambition' in the extract?

Highlight in a different colour so you can see the keywords to the question. This will be their main focus.

  • Read the extract twice...

Sometimes, we might have a delayed response, especially under exam conditions so we need enough time to digest what we are reading. Repetition can help us not to miss out on any key information.

THE FIRST READ - Read through the extract and understand what it is about.

THE SECOND READ - Highlight key information that would help your child answer the question.

  • (For exams) Annotate the writing techniques used in your examples.....

This all depends on the criteria (instruction) of the question. Especially, in an exam, your child might have to find and write out the specific writing technique used in their highlighted examples.

They also might have to write a "quote" and get evidence from the text to support their points.

E.g

POINT: Shakespeare highlights Macbeth's 'bloody ambition' with the way he shows his impeccable fighting skills on the battlefield.

EVIDENCE (Quote from the text): The vivid imagery used with the quote,‘Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps, And fix'd his head upon our battlements’

EXPLANATION: This highlights Macbeth's bloody ambition as he shows great determination in becoming the greatest fighter, so he can move up the ranks and eventually become Thane of Cawdor.





  • Make sure Your child doesn't over analyse every detail...

In a text, not every point is relevant to the question you need to answer. So if it is not, please tell your child to not over analyse every detail, and stick to the main focus. If your child tries to understand the overall example, then it will steer them in the right direction to answering the question successfully.

  • It is not necessary to memorise everything...

This is all about assessing your child's analytical and comprehension skills, not their memory skills. Ensure that it is okay to re-read the extract to help them digest and find the right information that is relevant to the question.

  • Read the question first, then the extract...

Always read the question first, as your child needs to understand what they need to answer, and it saves a lot of time, especially under exam conditions. Therefore, they need to use their time wisely, so getting a clear focus from the very beginning, will help them to prevent the small minor mistakes that may cost them a mark.



  • Avoid over analysing specific vocabulary...

Remind your child that they may not understand certain vocabulary, and maybe they are not able to check a dictionary if they are in an exam. I suggest that they understand the overall point to an extract, and what it is about. Sometimes when you look beyond the words you can try and figure out the main point.

E.g

Reading Shakespearean language can be like putting a puzzle together, but if we focus on the overall outline of the characters or story, we can usually get the gist of what it going on.

  • Focus on examples you can comprehend and leave the rest...

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened, where a student would focus on an example from the extract that they do not understand, and use this information to answer the question.

Always check with your child if they understand the information first before they answer the question and encourage them to use information that they DO understand.

We are teaching our children to become critical thinkers and to be able to organise their information between what is relevant and what is not.

  • Focus on the extract only...

Remind your child that the extract is there for a reason - (so they can find the right information and answer the question).

So get them to read their answer carefully, and make sure that they are sticking to the point. If it is a closed book exam (where they have no notes, just the extract), they may get a question that will show the extract but tell them to refer to the extract AND another part of the book.

For example, How does Shakespeare show Macbeth's growing ambition? Refer to Act 1 Scene 2 and another part of the play.

They will provide the extract for Act 1 Scene 2, but they will need to memorise and remember quotes from another scene in the play.

  • Never skim through the extract.....

Going back to one of my earlier points when I mentioned, reading the extract at least twice.

Your child has to make sure they give a careful read as they don't want to get thrown off with certain words that show a change in focus throughout the extract.

Words such as 'however' or 'but' might steer your child away from the focus, and if they are not careful, they will miss the point altogether.

  • Opening and Closing paragraphs require extra focus...

Topical questions that focus on a main theme or idea, might require your child to pay close attention to the opening and closing of the extract.

This might help your child to understand the shift of ideas and how they can form their answer.




  • Encourage them to constantly ask questions when reading the extract.....

As I said in one of my earlier points, reading comprehension and getting our children to analyse words is teaching them to become more critical thinkers.

So when approaching an extract, they need to continue to question everything

to maintain consistency in their points and to help them concentrate on the main focus,

I would consider them asking questions such as:

What is going on in the story?

What is the writer's purpose?

Which writing techniques have they decided to use and why?

What is the writer trying to tell us?

How does it make me feel as a reader?



To Conclude:


Get your child to think of the following things to tackle reading comprehension:


  • Read the question carefully....

  • Highlight Keywords in the question....

  • Read the extract twice...

  • (For exams) Annotate the writing techniques used in your examples.....

  • Make sure Your child doesn't over analyse every detail...

  • It is not necessary to memorise everything...

  • Read the question first, then the extract...

  • Avoid over analysing specific vocabulary...

  • Focus on examples you can comprehend and leave the rest...

  • Focus on the extract only...

  • Never skim through the extract.....

  • Opening and Closing paragraphs require extra focus...

  • Encourage them to constantly ask questions when reading the extract.....



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