Reading Comprehension

Being a successful reader requires many different skills:
  • phonics (learning the sounds in words)
  • understanding how books work (that print has meaning and that we read from top to bottom, left to right)
  • reading words on sight (from memory)
  • reading at speed (so you don't lose sense of the text)

But the most difficult reading skill to master is comprehension - understanding what the text means. We need to share stories, poems and non-fiction texts with children and ask them questions about their reading to develop these skills. In school, we use class readers, guided reading and Talk for Writing books to do this and we build on this at home with home reading books, Reading Plus (upper KS2 only) and our take-home library.

What is Comprehension?

Sometimes, the information in a text is really clear and easy to understand.

                                                                  The cat was black.

What colour was the cat? Black. This is called retrieval and is the first comprehension skill children learn when reading.

Sometimes, the information is less clear and children need to use a skill called inference to work it out.

                                               The boy's hands trembled and his heart raced.

How is the boy feeling? We don't know without looking for more clues elsewhere in the text. He might be exhausted, scared, excited...

The boy's hands trembled and his heart raced. He crouched down behind the door and held his breath, praying the gang would pass by without hearing.

Now we have more clues, we can infer that the boy is feeling scared.

These are skills that parents can develop at home. When you share a book, try to get in the habit of asking retrieval and inference questions. Also ask them to predict what might happen next and summarise what happened in the previous paragraph or chapter.

Every child in school has a reading response journal and is expected to regularly record their thoughts and reactions to the text they are reading. 

The resource below has some great examples of questions you could ask whilst hearing your child read.

Other ways that we develop reading comprehension include:

  • through the use of technology - (Seesaw, Reading Plus, Oxford Owl)
  • by giving children written comprehension tasks from a range of resources which may include First News (a children's newspaper)
  • through drama and inquiry in our 'Mantle' lessons

We use written comprehension tests each half term, alongside teacher's assessments from hearing children read in 1-1 or guided sessions, to inform our judgements on how well children have mastered a whole range of reading skills.