Community Psychiatric Centers
Monroeville, Greensburg, Monessen, and Wilkinsburg Pittsburgh
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July 19, 2021

Improving Your Child’s Reading Comprehension

Does Dyslexia Impact Reading Comprehension?

We talk a lot about dyslexia, or the difficulty with decoding or sounding out words. It’s obvious that any child struggling to decode individual words is going to have trouble with reading comprehension. In that respect, it’s difficult to ascertain what a passage is attempting to convey if one cannot read a portion of the words in that passage. In that instance, we target the child’s ability to decode words and, as that skill improves, so does the reading comprehension. However, some children actually read fairly well, but still struggle with reading comprehension; today’s post targets those children and that difficulty.

What Causes Problems With Reading Comprehension?

Attention Problems

Once we rule out dyslexia, the next most common issue causing problems with reading comprehension is lack of attention. In that regard, children with ADHD tend to struggle with reading comprehension because, while reading, they lose focus and consequently don’t capture the information the passage is attempting to convey. 

What to Do?

We target the attention problem issue. In doing so, we assess the length of time before attention begins to wane, use a timer, and break down the task into smaller segments to promote attention. Keep the work environment distraction-free, and summarize each paragraph before moving on to the next.


Improving one’s vocabulary, or the understanding of what words mean, is surprisingly fun and simple, gives a sense of satisfaction as your child learns the meaning and how to use new words, and is immeasurably helpful and instrumental in improving reading comprehension. In that respect, if one does not know what the words mean, then reading comprehension is going to suffer.

What to Do?

You can easily go online and download a list of grade-appropriate vocabulary words and simply begin the review. It’s actually fun to memorize the meaning of words; you can make a game of it. However, remember that one does not know the meaning of any word until one can explain what the word means without using the word in the explanation.

Practice Makes Perfect, and Don’t Forget to Re-cap

Use reading material your child finds to be fun and engaging. After each paragraph or page, ask for a quick re-cap; practice makes perfect. Start with material that is below-grade-level and work upwards. Sometimes reading aloud is helpful.

Picking Out Key Words and Phrases

It’s often helpful to read chapter questions (at the end of the chapter in a textbook) before reading the chapter, which gives clues regarding the chapter content and helps to focus on important elements of the story. Or, a parent can pre-read the passage, make up questions, and present the questions before the child begins reading. Also, scan ahead to see the paragraph headings, graphics, and any clues and cues that provide a sense of the chapter content. Underline key words and phrases that often include names, dates, locations, facts, and figures.

Hope that helps!!

Those are a few tips for improving reading comprehension skills. Please note that we’re available to help at the Dyslexia Diagnostic & Treatment Center where we help with reading problems including sounding out words and comprehending the reading material. If you think your child might be suffering from dyslexia, call 1 (724) 850-7200, or email me to set up or an evaluation. Or if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Happy reading!!

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