It sounds so basic. Read. Comprehend. But reading comprehension is an incredibly complex process, one that is learned, expanded on, and honed for the life of the reader. When one part isn’t mastered, it can snowball. That weak leg makes it difficult to build the pieces connected to it. Over time, reading goes from a fun activity to a pain in the (weak) leg! 

Do any of these things remind you of your child? 

  • Does your child struggle to understand the point of what they read?
  • Is it hard for them to identify all the questions to answer in an exam text? 
  • Are book reports rough? 
  • Is their textbook their least favorite book? 

Reading comprehension shows up in so many ways. It leaves our capable kids feeling frustrated and doubting their intelligence. 

After all, when it’s hard to do what we know we should be able to, who wouldn’t be discouraged? 

When comprehension is a challenge, it’s tough to: 

  • Recall key information
  • Read for meaning
  • Plan, sort, and prioritize information 
  • Separate details from main ideas 
  • Understand broader context 
  • Find answers to questions 
  • Think flexibly
  • Monitor their pace and progress 

That’s a lot! 

AND, hope is not lost!  


Here are two places to start: 

1. The Note Strategy

This simple strategy works for students of all ages. It’s a great way to increase focus and improve working memory while reading independently. This approach helps students keep multiple ideas in their mind at the same time. It’s perfect for the student who struggles to summarize the chapters and books they read. 

Here’s what your learner should do: 

  1. Grab a pencil and piece of paper, along with their book. 
  2. Read the first page and pause.
  3. Write down the page number and a 1 sentence summary for that page. 
  4. After they’ve finished what they’ll read for now, have them check accuracy by:
    1. Sharing their notes with their teacher and asking for feedback
    2. Comparing to Cliffnotes or another resource
    3. Discussing their notes with classmates
    4. Talking through the material with them

2. The Question/Answer Cycle 

The question/answer cycle is great for middle school through college kids. It challenges students to dig into an applied understanding of what they’re reading. With Q/A, a reader identifies both the point and details of the material. It engages their mind actively by drawing attention to what they don’t yet know and sets the brain on a hunt for the answer. 

Here’s how your child can do it: 

  1. Grab a piece of paper and something to write with, along with their book. 
  2. When studying, ask themselves “Where are the questions?” 
  3. Pause and write down each question as it comes up. 
  4. At the end of the material, go back and answer each question they can. 
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 with all the written material from a class: lecture notes, book, etc. 
  6. At the end, take the questions that still can’t be answered to the teacher. 

Curious what our other tips are?  

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