Reading Comprehension Basics: The Skills You Need to Understand Text

5 Essential Skills Needed for Reading Comprehension


Beginning around third or fourth grade, your child is expected to be able to read a passage of text, understand it and answer questions about it. Here are the five skills needed for reading comprehension.

Making the Connection Between Letters and Sounds

Once your child grasps the connection between letters (or groups of letters) and the sounds they typically make (phonics), he’ll be able to “sound out” words.

Decoding the Text

The process of sounding out words is also known as decoding. As decoding becomes faster and more automatic, your child can shift his focus from sounding out words individually to understanding the meaning of what he is reading.

Recognizing Words

The ability to read whole words by sight without sounding them out is called “word recognition.” This speeds up the rate at which your child can read and understand a passage of text. This can be a challenging step for kids with dyslexia. Average readers require four to 14 exposures to a word before it becomes a “sight word.” Students with dyslexia may need up to 40 exposures.

Reading Fluently

Once your child can recognize most words by sight and quickly sound out any unfamiliar words, he can be called a “fluent” reader. Fluent readers read smoothly at a good pace, and use good expression in their voice when reading aloud. Fluency is essential for good reading comprehension.

Understanding the Text

Fluent readers can remember what they’ve just read and relate the new material to what they already know. They can recall details if asked and summarize what they understood from the passage.

Readers with dyslexia can struggle to decode individual words. They can also have a harder time remembering what they’ve read. This makes it tougher to complete the important process of understanding and applying their new knowledge to what they’ve already learned.

via Reading Comprehension Basics: The Skills You Need to Understand Text.

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