How Do I Improve My Child’s Reading Comprehension?
High school reading is tough stuff. I recently worked with a high school age student having reading comprehension difficulties. She could read fluently and sound out words without difficulty but did not seem to understand what she read. As she put it, “My mind wanders and then I start thinking about other things.” We all do this to some extent but when it starts to interfere with test grades then it becomes a problem. So what could she do?
As it turns out my testing showed she also had a weaker short term and working memory. Thus, even though she could read and even concentrate at times, she had troubles remembering. She explained, “My memory is not strong so I have to write things down. That’s why I can do ok with vocabulary because I can write it down.” At that point I knew a great reading comprehension strategy for her to learn was the RAP reading comprehension strategy.
The RAP strategy is one that is researched based and was shown to work. Here is how RAP works.
R- read a page/ paragraph
A- ask yourself the main idea and important details
P- put them in your own words
I knew this strategy would work for this teenager because when she stopped to ask herself the main idea, she could write it down in her own words. This straightforward three step strategy is all she needed because it broke the chapter into small parts. No longer was is viewed as one super long chapter but as short sections that allowed for breaks. Now, she is able to take the information she wrote down and use it to study. I recommended she use the written information to generate possible test questions. If she had a list of key terms to remember they become obvious and she can use a memory strategy to remember and recall the terms.
Sure, this strategy takes time to apply because it slows you down and makes you think about your thinking. But, it works! This teenager could also take part in the intensive Cogmed working memory training program. This is a computer based working memory training program that she could complete at home under her parents supervision and that of a Cogmed coach. This would help strengthen her underlying weakness that is contributing to her mind wandering and decreased reading comprehension.
She has a promising future ahead of her. If your child has reading comprehension problems let me check it out and help you know how to help your child.