Testing your child’s reading comprehension

When your child is learning to read do you often wonder whether your child understands what he/she reads? Believe us when we say, you are not alone. It can be hard to judge whether a child is reading by numbers, or actually comprehending the meaning of a text. And it can be just as hard to know how to test your child without causing stress and confusion. Next time you feel that your child doesn’t fully understand a text, why not try some of the following strategies.

  • Testing word knowledge – you know that moment, when your child stumbles on a word and then slowly spells it out? Try to avoid asking ‘Do you know what that word means?’ Instead, ask if the word is new. If your child says yes, take the opportunity together to find out what the word means. If on the other hand, your child has heard the word before, find out if he/she knows its meaning before offering your own explanation
  • Tell the story in your own words – this can be a good compromise if you have a child who dislikes reading aloud. Make sure you read the book your child is going to read. Instead of asking your child to read the entire story aloud, ask them to read the first page or so and then complete the story for themselves. When they have finished, explain that you are curious to know what happened to the characters in the end, and ask them to tell you the story in their own words
  • Play the comparison game – ask your child to rate the story they have read. If they say they loved the story, ask them which parts they liked best. If they insist they hated the story, ask them to tell you which parts they didn’t like

Comprehension is a skill – the more it’s used the better it gets. Remember, there are stories around us every day; in our families, in the community, on the news, etc. Get into the habit of explaining the meaning of events and stories witnessed by your child, and they will develop the ability to explain the world for themselves.