They say, “practice makes perfect,” so let’s practice what they preach! Often the simple solution seems too obvious to be effective, but when it comes to reading comprehension usually that’s precisely the place to start. Read, re-read, then read it again! Many of us may avoid this approach because it’s boring. I get it! Most students are not thrilled by the idea of re-reading that sentence, paragraph, chapter, let alone being asked to read it three times. Nonetheless, it is often very effective. The first read through many students do comprehend what they’re reading, but they simply forget what they read in the beginning. The second reading will increase both comprehension and memory, and as they say “the third times the charm.”
So how do I motivate kids to actually read something three times (or more)? Different methods are effective for different ages and different personalities. For older students, space it out. Have your student read something, then work on their math homework. Once math is done re-read the article and discuss it. Ask some questions to assess their level of comprehension, then give them a highlighter and have them read it again highlighting the most important points (or they can put stars in the margin, whatever makes it fun!).
Also don’t forget about reading aloud. You can read to your student or if your student isn’t embarrassed ask them to read to you. I suggest reading aloud for two reasons. First, different students learn best through different modalities. Auditory learners will comprehend the information better if they hear it. Also, having your student read aloud will allow you to assess their fluency. All too often comprehension problems are really just the result of fluency problems.
With younger children, I use all the previous advice and get goofy! I guess you can get goofy with the older ones too, if they don’t think you’re a total nerd. The first pass can be normal reading, then read it in a funny accent, act it out, make it into a song, draw pictures as you go along, take breaks to talk about the characters. Switch between having the student read aloud and reading to himself or herself. Once again, be aware that fluency may be the root of the problem.
If repetition isn’t working their maybe a larger underlying problem, but start simple. It is worth taking the time and effort to practice, practice, practice before diagnosing or labeling your student.
I am a student at Claremont Graduate University, studying positive developmental psychology. The psychology of what is right with people. My studies permeate her philosophy on education and my tutoring style. I believe a good education is the ticket the success and happiness, and the first step to receiving a quality education is desiring one. My goal as a tutor is to help make learning intrinsically rewarding.