It can be discouraging, as a parent, to see a good reader struggle with reading comprehension. You can, however, take some 1-on-1 time to work at improving comprehension skills. Talking through comprehension questions with your child – after your child has answered – may help you see where a problem exists in the reading process.
While you can always buy a workbook and go through the short reading passages together, you can also create your own reading comprehension “quiz” on text that your child is trying to read on their own. Whether the text is fiction or from a textbook, keep in mind a few pointers before writing comprehension questions.
- Start with a short passage of text. Reading 100 words of text is far easier for a 9-year than reading 1,000 words at once. For reference, the Magic Tree House early chapter books run around 6,000 words each.
- Recognition type questions, like multiple choice, are easier to answer than recall questions, like short answer.
- Track comprehension ability on different types of text. Reading a science fiction story, when the child already loves Star Wars, will probably yield different results than a history- hating child who is reading about the French and Indian War.
Different Types of Comprehension Questions
- Yes/No or True/False Questions
While Yes/No questions can be answered correctly purely by chance, you can verify what your child knows by asking them to point to text that supports their answer.
- Multiple Choice Questions
Offer you child 3 or more answer options to literal or inference questions. You’re looking to see if they can remember Who, What, When, and Where facts, as well as the How and the Why from the text. For example, if you’ve just read a passage about Pearl Harbor, you can ask the following question: Was it the Germans, the Italians, or the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor?”
- Cloze Method
Cloze is just another way to describe fill-in-the-blank questions. These types of questions are good ways to check for vocabulary knowledge. For example, if you’ve just reas a passage about animal classification, you can ask: The class of animals that change from a gill breathing larva to a lung breathing adult is ___.
- Summary Method
Have your child retell the story or basic facts of what they just read. Learning to summarize is a skill in and of itself, where you attempt to name the main character, the setting, and the general conflict of the story, along with 1 or 2 sentence descriptions of the beginning, middle, and end of the story. If you find your child focusing on less obvious details you will want to ask them why. It could be that they found that part of the story more interesting – or they missed the point of the story.
- Error Correction
A more advanced type of True/False question, Error Correction has the students provide the correct answer to the question. An easier type of Error Correction can focus on identifying sequential inconsistencies. More difficult Error Corrections can have students look for obscure errors such as a single word or grammatical change that changes meaning.
Last modified on September 3, 2023