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Reading Comprehension: 5 Sneaky Mistakes Your Child Doesn’t Know They’re Making

Is reading comprehension more-reading-less-comprehension for your child? Well, you’re not alone. Here are 5 of the most common reading mistakes you may not realize your child is making.

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Reading comprehension is difficult for adults and kids alike. How often have you read through a page or two, only to realize you retained nothing? So often, we find ourselves reading the words, but failing to understand the bigger picture, a task that takes intense and deliberate focus. For younger learners, reading comprehension can be one of the hardest skills to master. The difficulty of developing reading comprehension skills is not lost on parents, but sometimes identifying the underlying problem can feel impossible. Here are five common reading comprehension mistakes you may not know your child is making.

1. Boring Books

Does reading time sound more like a symphony of yawns than paper pages being thumbed through? Well, it’s possible the content of the books your child is reading simply doesn’t pique their interest. Kids, in their eternal honesty, seldom feign interest. If your child isn’t engaged in their reading, they’re unlikely to retain and understand much.

2. Environment

Does it seem like reading comprehension is an issue at home, but not school? Or vice-versa? Certain environmental factors, like disruptive noise, or appetizing distractions may be holding your child’s focus. Although it may be an “easy fix,” the environment itself could spur other reading-comprehension hurdles like poor cadence, stress, or a lack of interest.

3. Stress

Stress is the enemy of comprehension. When we’re confronted with a task that frightens or challenges us, an impenetrable fog rolls over our brains. Moreover, if reading-induced stress has your child preoccupied, and consequently they fail to understand what they read, their anxiety may worsen.

4. Challenging Vocabulary

How does your child fair with the vocabulary of their texts? When we’re reading and the odd word appears here and there, we can still manage to make sense of the passage given enough context. However, when we’re frequently scratching our heads mid-sentence, and reaching for a dictionary, comprehension may be too much to hope for. Kids experience the same phenomena, albeit with a lower tolerance for foreign vocabulary. Challenging your child’s reading skills is pivotal, but asking too much of them can be a recipe for minimal comprehension and a blow to their confidence.

5. Reading Cadence

Slow and steady wins the race, but reading too slow, or fast, can hinder comprehension. Speed reading usually strikes us as an obvious cause of gaps in our understanding. However, reading too slowly may also impede retention and comprehension. Ideally, our reading ought to be continuous, to maintain the flow of ideas in the text. When reading becomes too slow, students arrive at ideas in discrete chunks, and relating ideas is put solely on the reader.

Your child might be making any combination of these common mistakes, but luckily, all of which are treatable. Now that you’ve “diagnosed” your child’s reading comprehension barrier, you can begin to remove it. Helping your student to become the best reader they can be may not be easy, but eliminating some of their reading pit-falls can go a long way. In the next post in this series, I’ll be covering steps you can take with your child to overcome each of these obstacles. So which of these has your child down? 

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