Reading strategies for comprehension can seem like a scary thing to teach elementary students, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow a simple planned out routine and your students will master the skill of reading comprehension with these elementary reading strategies in no time!
What Are Elementary Reading Strategies for Comprehension?
Reading comprehension strategies for elementary students help them understand the meaning of what they read, which is the main point of reading…..so I’d say teaching these elementary reading strategies so students not only learn them and remember them but continue to use them every time they read is an important task on teachers’ plates!
So what are the different elementary reading strategies? The elementary reading strategies you teach may vary depending on the grade you teach. I teach 1st grade so these are the reading comprehension strategies for 1st grade and would also be the reading comprehension strategies for 2nd grade and the reading comprehension strategies for 3rd grade in my district.
Text To Text, Self, or World Connection
Some of the best elementary reading strategies for comprehension include making connections. This can be through a connection you make between the book you are reading now and a book you have read in the past, a connection you make with a character or event and yourself, or a connection you can make from the book to the real world. These connections really help students relate to the book which results in them understanding it better.
Making and Adjusting Predictions
Elementary Reading strategies to improve comprehension can include students making a prediction about a story from seeing the cover page, title and any other clues like illustrations or information the students get from anything but actually reading the words. After reading the text, you should make sure to ask students to find the text that confirms their predictions or that even causes them to change their prediction before they read the end of the story.
Making a Mental Picture or Image (Visualizing)
Visualization strategies for reading comprehension can be a game changer if used correctly. I will sometimes read a story all the way through and not let the students see any of the pictures. I have them close their eyes and pretend to play a movie of what I read in their heads. Afterward I pick one page and read it again while I have them draw what they are visualizing. They love getting to see the actual picture to compare what they drew to see how close they were to what it really looks like. To read more on visualizing check out this blog post and download some free printables.
Using Text Features
When reading nonfiction that includes text features such as captions, headings, photographs, bold words, etc. students tend to overlook these items and only read the main section of text. These text features assist in helping students increase their understanding of what they are reading. When they glaze over these sections they miss important information. It’s crucial to teach students to make sure they look for these features and use them.
Problem and Solution
Reading comprehension strategies for students will also include finding the problem and solution. Knowing the problem and solution not only helps comprehension but will come in handy when students attempt to retell a story. Ask students to identify who the main character is and what trouble they are having in the story. Then ask them to identify how that character fixes the problem or their trouble.
One of the reading comprehension strategies for first graders that is usually pretty difficult is retelling. This is having students tell the story in their own words but they should only include important facts and not just the interesting ones. They only need to give you the details that you would have to know to understand the story. Most students want to tell everything that happened so this skill takes a bit of practice. You can read this post for more information on retelling.
Main Idea/Topic and Supporting Details
Reading comprehension strategies for informational texts and literature can involve having students find the main idea or topic and then listing the details from the text that help support what they believe the main idea or topic is. This is another strategy that will help out with retelling.
The important idea of the story or article that the author wants to share is the main idea. If we know and understand the main idea we can better understand what we are reading. 1st graders may have a hard time with main idea because they want to tell everything. When we tell the main idea it should be told in a few words or maybe a sentence. All of the extra they want to share is what is known as the supporting details. They help us understand the main idea and make sense of it. Need some fun ideas on how to teach main idea? Check this post out.
Every author has a reason for writing a text. That reason may include to entertain a reader, persuade them to do or think something, or to teach the reader about something or teach the reader how to do something. Students need to know what the author’s purpose for writing the text was so they know what to expect as they read.
Cause and Effect
The cause is why something happened and the effect is what happened because of that event. Studies have shown that when students understand cause and effect, they will be more willing to accept consequences for their own actions since they know what they did caused the consequence. This is a great life lesson for students!
Comparing and Contrasting Texts
Comparing is telling how something is the same or similar and contrasting is telling how they are different. Students need to understand that even if two texts are on the same topic they may contain information that is different.
Asking questions is a huge standard for 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders and will require a lot of modeling from the teacher. You don’t want students to ask irrelevant questions such as what color is his shirt or how is the girl wearing her hair. We want deep questions from students that will give them a reason for reading. If students ask deep questions while they read, they will want to continue to read to find the answers to their questions.
Model how to ask an open-ended question vs. a closed question. Closed questions have a simple yes or no answer. We want students asking open-ended questions such as why do you think such and such happened in this part or how could what just happened to this character change the way he feels about ______. Asking questions will help students with all of the other comprehension strategies mentioned in this post as well as set a purpose for reading.
Recognizing Literary Elements
Literary elements can include a wide range of things but in the younger grades we focus on character, setting, and events. Once students have mastered being able to tell what these elements are when reading you can move on to more difficult elements such as theme, point or view, mood, etc. Literary elements are things that must be included in a story or you wouldn’t have the story to begin with.
How Elementary Reading Strategies Help With Comprehension
Reading strategies for comprehension are steps that students take to make sense of what they read. This is what makes them good readers. Using these elementary reading strategies helps students take control of their learning and gives them a purpose for reading. When students don’t utilize good reading comprehension strategies, they don’t have a reason for reading. This results in them not understanding what they read. In the end, this ultimately causes them to dislike reading. Teaching these strategies and making sure students continue to practice them every time they read is crucial in creating good readers!
If you want to try out teaching your students to retell, then download this list of 12 amazing books to use with retelling. Plus score a bonus retelling mini lesson complete with posters, graphic organizers, questions to ask students and more!