Reading Comprehension Strategies for Struggling Readers

May 10, 2023
Learning, School

Reading is an essential skill that unlocks countless opportunities for personal growth, knowledge acquisition, and intellectual development. It is not only a means of communication but also a gateway to imagination, empathy, and critical thinking. For struggling readers, however, this transformative power of reading can feel out of reach. Struggling readers may face difficulties in decoding words, comprehending texts, or maintaining focus, leading to frustration and a sense of being left behind. It is crucial for CBSE schools to provide support and tailored interventions to struggling readers, helping them develop their reading skills and instilling in them the belief that they too can unlock the magic of literature and all its benefits. With patience, understanding, and appropriate resources, struggling readers can overcome obstacles, enhance their reading abilities, and embark on a lifelong journey of learning and exploration through the written word.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand what we read. It's not just about reading the words, but also about making sense of them. When we read, we need to think about the meaning of the words, how they fit together, and what the author is trying to say. It involves understanding the main ideas, figuring out what the author thinks, and using our own knowledge to make sense of the text. Good reading comprehension skills help us get information, think critically, and learn new things from what we read. It's an important skill that helps us become better readers and thinkers.

Why are Reading Comprehension Skills Important?

Effective communication relies heavily on reading comprehension. Without the ability to understand written content, one cannot fully grasp the ideas and thoughts being conveyed. Reading comprehension is not only important in academic settings, but also in everyday life such as reading instructions, contracts or even emails. It allows individuals to make informed decisions and interpret information accurately. In today's fast-paced society, where information is readily available and constantly changing, strong reading comprehension skills are more critical than ever before. Here are several reasons why reading comprehension skills are crucial:


1. Better understanding of the world around you: Reading comprehension allows you to access a wide range of information and ideas. By comprehending what you read, you gain knowledge about various topics, including current events, science, history, and literature. This broader understanding helps you make sense of the world, stay informed, and make informed decisions in your personal and professional life.

2. Improved academic performance: Reading comprehension is a fundamental skill for academic success across all subjects. Whether you're studying mathematics, science, social sciences, or literature, you'll encounter textbooks, articles, and other written materials that require comprehension. Being able to read allows you to grasp and retain information, understand complex concepts, and perform well in exams and assignments. They are particularly important for subjects that involve extensive reading, such as literature and humanities.

3. Better job prospects: In the professional world, reading comprehension is crucial for performing tasks effectively. Job instructions, emails, reports, and other work-related documents require careful reading and understanding. By having strong reading comprehension skills, you can comprehend and follow instructions accurately, analyze complex documents, and communicate effectively with colleagues and clients. These abilities enhance your productivity and increase your chances of career advancement.

4. Enhanced critical thinking skills: Reading involves not only understanding the text but also thinking critically about it. It requires you to analyze the author's arguments, evaluate evidence, and draw logical conclusions. By engaging in this process, you develop critical thinking skills, which are essential for problem-solving, decision-making, and evaluating information in various contexts. Strong critical thinking skills enable you to approach complex issues with a discerning and analytical mindset.

5. Increased enjoyment of reading: When you have strong reading comprehension skills, reading becomes a more enjoyable experience. You can fully engage with the text, understand the author's intended meaning, and appreciate literary techniques and nuances. This enjoyment of reading can lead to personal enrichment, expanded knowledge, and a greater appreciation for different genres and writing styles. Moreover, reading can serve as a means of relaxation, providing an escape from the stresses of daily life.

Proven Techniques to Boost Reading Comprehension for Struggling Readers Across All Age Groups

 Here are some proven reading strategies for struggling readers across all age groups:

● Pre-reading activities: Before reading, participate in activities that will help students connect to the text and build background knowledge. This could involve discussing the topic of the text, brainstorming vocabulary words, or looking at illustrations.

● Questioning: As students read, ask them questions to help them understand the text. These questions can be literal, inferential, or evaluative.

● Summarizing: After reading, have students summarize the text in their own words. This will help them identify the main ideas and important details.

● Visualizing:  students should be motivated to create mental images of what is happening in the text. This will help them understand the story and make connections to their own experiences.

● Taking notes: Have students take notes while they read. This will help them remember the important information and keep track of their thoughts.

● Reading aloud: Reading aloud can help students slow down and process the text more carefully.

● Relating to the text: Encourage students to relate the text to their own experiences. This will help them understand the text and make it more meaningful.

● Using graphic organizers: Graphic organizers can help students visualize the text and make connections between different parts of the text.

● Getting help from a tutor or teacher: If a student is struggling with reading comprehension, they may need to get help from a tutor or teacher. A tutor or teacher can help the student develop reading comprehension strategies and practice their reading skills.

It is important to note that there is no single "best" technique for improving reading comprehension. The best approach will vary depending on the individual student and their specific needs. However, by using a variety of reading strategies, struggling readers can make significant progress in improving their reading comprehension skills.

Reading Comprehension Strategies for Early Elementary Students (Grades K–2)

Reading comprehension is an essential skill for early elementary students, and there are several strategies that can help them develop and improve their understanding of texts. Here are some effective reading comprehension strategies for students in grades K-2:

1. Activating Prior Knowledge: Encourage students to connect what they already know to the topic or content of the text. Help them make connections by asking questions or having discussions about related experiences, ideas, or vocabulary.

2. Predicting: Encourage students to make predictions about the story or text based on the title, illustrations, or their prior knowledge. This helps them engage with the text and anticipate what might happen next.

3. Visualizing: Encourage students to create mental images or pictures in their minds as they read. This strategy helps them better understand and remember the information by making it more concrete and vivid.

4. Questioning: Teach students to ask questions about the text while they read. Encourage them to ask questions about the characters, plot, or unfamiliar words. This helps them actively engage with the text and promotes deeper understanding.

5. Summarizing: Teach students how to summarize the main points or events of a story or text in their own words. This helps them identify the most important information and develop a concise understanding of the text.

6. Making Connections: Help students make connections between the text and their own lives, other books they have read, or the world around them. This fosters a deeper understanding and engagement with the text.

7. Monitoring Comprehension: Teach students to be aware of their own understanding while they read. Encourage them to stop and think about whether they are understanding what they read. If they are not, teach them to use strategies such as rereading, looking for context clues, or asking for help.

8. Using Context Clues: Teach students to use the words and sentences around unfamiliar words to figure out their meanings. Encourage them to look for clues in the text, such as synonyms, antonyms, or examples, to help them understand unfamiliar vocabulary.

9. Story Elements: Help students identify and understand story elements such as characters, setting, and plot. Teach them to recognize the beginning, middle, and end of a story and how these elements contribute to the overall comprehension.

10. Retelling: Encourage students to retell the main events or ideas of a story or text in their own words. This helps them solidify their understanding and practice summarizing skills.

Reading Comprehension Strategies for Mid-Elementary Students (Grades 3–5)

When it comes to improving reading comprehension skills for mid-elementary students (grades 3-5), there are several effective strategies that can be implemented. Here are some strategies you can use:

1. Pre-reading Activities: Engage students in activities that activate their prior knowledge and build anticipation for the text. This can include discussing the title, making predictions, brainstorming related vocabulary, or looking at pictures or headings.

2. Active Reading: Teach students to be active readers by encouraging them to ask questions, make connections, and visualize as they read. They can jot down questions or key points, underline or highlight important information, or create mental images of what they are reading.

3. Chunking: Break the text into manageable chunks or sections. Have students read a section at a time, then pause to summarize or discuss what they have read before moving on. This helps with understanding and retention.

4. Vocabulary Development: Teach students how to identify and understand unfamiliar words in context. Encourage them to use context clues, such as surrounding words or sentences, to determine the meaning of unknown words. You can also introduce vocabulary words before reading and discuss their meanings.

5. Questioning Techniques: Teach students how to ask and answer different types of questions, such as factual, inferential, and evaluative questions. Model the process of questioning while reading and encourage students to do the same. This helps them actively engage with the text and deepen their understanding.

5. Visualizing: Encourage students to create mental images of the text as they read. This helps them better comprehend the story or information. You can also provide opportunities for students to draw or sketch their visualizations to reinforce comprehension.

6. Monitor the understanding level: Teach students to pay attention to whether they understand what they are reading. Encourage them to pause and think about it, and if they don't understand, suggest strategies like reading again or asking for help to make things clearer.

7. Collaborative Discussions: Provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions with their peers about the text. This allows them to share their thoughts, clarify their understanding, and learn from others' perspectives.

8. Post-reading Reflection: After reading a text, have students reflect on what they have learned or gained from the reading experience. They can write a journal entry, create a visual representation, or engage in a class discussion to reinforce their comprehension.


Reading Comprehension Strategies for Middle School Students

Here are some reading comprehension strategies for middle school students:

1. Tap into prior knowledge: Before you start reading, take a few minutes to think about what you already know about the topic. This will help you to better understand the text.

2. Ask questions: As you read, ask yourself questions about the text. These questions can help you to stay focused and to make sure that you are understanding what you are reading.

3. Summarize the text: After you have finished reading, take a few minutes to summarize the text in your own words. This will help you to remember what you have read and to identify the main ideas.

4. Visualize the text: As you read, try to visualize what is happening. This will help you to understand the text more deeply.

5. Use graphic organizers: Graphic organizers can help you to organize your thoughts and to better understand the text. There are many different types of graphic organizers, so you can choose one that works best for you.

6. Read actively: This means paying attention to the text and thinking about what you are reading. It also means stopping to ask questions and to visualize the text.

7. Reread difficult passages: If you come across a passage that you do not understand, reread it. You may also want to try reading it aloud or to use a graphic organizer to help you to understand it.

8. Use context clues: If you do not know the meaning of a word, you can use context clues to figure it out. Context clues are the words and phrases that surround the unknown word.

9. Take notes: Taking notes can help you to remember what you have read and to identify the main ideas.

10. Talk about the text with others: Discussing the text with others can help you to better understand it and to see different perspectives.

Reading Comprehension Strategies for High School Students

Here are some reading comprehension strategies for high school students:

1. Engage your existing knowledge: Prior to diving into the text, dedicate a few moments to reflect on your current understanding of the subject matter. This practice will facilitate the formation of associations with the text and enhance your understanding of information.

2. Pose inquiries: While you're reading, ask yourself questions about the text. What's the main point? What are the facts that support it? What does the author want to say? Asking questions will keep you focused and ensure that you grasp what you're reading.

3. Identify the text structure: Different types of texts have different structures. For example, a narrative text might have a beginning, middle, and end, while an expository text might have a problem-solution structure. Understanding the text structure will help you to follow the author's argument or to understand the sequence of events.

4. Create mental images: Visualization is a powerful way to improve reading comprehension. As you read, try to create mental images of the people, places, and things that the author is describing. This will help you to better understand the text and to remember what you have read.

5. Summarize: Once you've completed reading, spend a few minutes summarizing the text using your own language. This practice will aid in recognizing the primary concepts and confirming your comprehension of the text.

6. Utilize graphic organizers: Graphic organizers are visual representations of text that can help you to organize and understand information. There are many different types of graphic organizers, such as concept maps, Venn diagrams, and timelines.

7. Write notes: Taking notes while you read can help you to recollect what you have read and to identify important information. You can take notes in the margins of the text, on a separate sheet of paper, or using a digital device.

8. Talk to someone about what you have read: Discussing what you have read with a friend, family member, or teacher can help you to understand the text better and to gain new insights.

9. Read regularly: The more you read, the better you will become at it.

10. Choose challenging texts: Don't be afraid to read texts that are a little bit above your level. This will help you to stretch your reading skills.

11. Use a variety of texts: Don't just read textbooks. Read newspapers, magazines, novels, and other types of texts.

12. Don't be afraid to ask for help: If you are struggling with a comprehension activity, don't be afraid to ask for help from a teacher, librarian, or tutor.

Enhancing Literacy: Strategies and Initiatives at GIIS Abu Dhabi for Strengthening Reading Comprehension Skills

At GIIS (Global Indian International School), there is a strong emphasis on enhancing the reading comprehension skills of students across all grades, ranging from kindergarten to secondary grades. The school recognizes the importance of reading as a fundamental skill that not only aids in academic development but also fosters a love for learning and expands students' knowledge and imagination.

To cater to the diverse interests and preferences of students who have taken secondary school admission, GIIS provides various avenues for reading, including physical books and online applications. One such app mentioned is Epic, which offers free access to a wide range of books across different genres. By utilizing these online platforms, students have the opportunity to explore and engage with literature beyond the boundaries of a traditional library.

In addition to digital resources, GIIS boasts an extensive library that serves as a valuable resource for students. The library is well-stocked with books covering diverse subjects, genres, and reading levels to cater to the needs and interests of students at different stages of their education. By providing access to a rich collection of books, GIIS aims to create an environment that encourages students to actively participate in reading.

To further promote reading, GIIS organizes book reading sessions involving parents. These sessions not only foster parent-child bonding but also emphasize the importance of reading as a shared activity. By involving parents in these reading sessions, the school aims to create a collaborative and supportive environment that nurtures a love for reading among students.

And most importantly there is a dedicated focus on providing English language support for non-native speaking students at GIIS Abu Dhabi. The school acknowledges the significance of English as a global language and understands the importance of equipping students with strong language and reading skills to thrive in academic and professional settings.


Reading comprehension is an essential skill that students need to develop in order to succeed academically and in their future careers. It enables them to understand and interpret texts, critically analyze information, and communicate effectively with others.

Throughout this article, we have explored the importance of reading comprehension in schools and its impact on student success. We have also highlighted the various strategies and approaches that educators can use to support students in developing strong reading comprehension skills. By providing explicit instruction on comprehension strategies, promoting a love for reading through diverse texts, and creating a supportive learning environment that fosters engagement and collaboration, teachers can help their students become confident readers who are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.

Finally, investing in reading comprehension education is crucial for ensuring that all students have equal opportunities to achieve their full potential. By prioritizing this skill at every level of education, we can empower learners to take ownership of their learning journey and thrive both inside and outside the classroom.



How Do You Improve Poor Reading Comprehension?

To improve poor reading comprehension, there are a few things you can do. First, try to be an active reader by underlining important parts, writing notes, and asking questions as you read. Building your vocabulary is also important, as knowing more words helps you understand what you're reading. Summarizing what you read in your own words is a helpful way to practice comprehension. You can also try to connect what you read to things you already know or have experienced, which makes it easier to understand. Reading different types of books and articles regularly will expose you to different writing styles and subjects, which will make you a better reader overall. If you need more help, ask your teacher or join a reading group. There are also online resources and apps that offer exercises and activities to improve comprehension.


What Are The 5 Steps That Should Be Taken To Improve Reading Comprehension?

Improving reading comprehension can be a gradual process, but there are several steps you can take to enhance your skills. Here are five essential steps to improve reading comprehension:


1. Use what you already know: Before you start reading, think about what you already know about the topic. Connect it to what you're about to read. This helps you understand and remember better.

2. Learn new words: Knowing more words helps you understand what you're reading. Read challenging stuff and look up words you don't know. Try to understand them in context or use tricks like making connections or using flashcards.

3. Be an active reader: When you read, get involved with the text. Highlight or underline important parts, take notes, and summarize what you've read. Ask yourself questions while reading and try to find answers in the text.

4. Read faster and smoother: Practicing reading faster can make it easier to understand. Set aside time to read regularly and try to read a bit faster each time. Break the text into smaller parts and use your finger to guide your eyes along the lines.

5. Pay attention and use helpful strategies: Keep track of how well you're understanding what you read. If you're confused, try different strategies to help you, like reading again, breaking down difficult sentences, making guesses about what will happen, picturing things in your mind, or talking about the text with someone else.


What is The Best Way To Increase Reading Speed And Comprehension?

Increasing reading speed and comprehension requires a combination of strategies and consistent practice. Here are some effective ways to improve both:


1. Read without moving your lips: Instead of silently pronouncing each word in your mind as you read, try to break the habit of moving your lips. This helps you read faster.

2. Use your finger to guide your eyes: When you read, run your finger along the lines. This helps your eyes stay on track and prevents you from going back over the same words again.

3. Try different reading techniques: There are different ways to read faster while still understanding the content. One way is to quickly look over the text to get a general idea. Another is to scan for specific information. Practice these techniques to get better at them.

4. Read regularly: Reading regularly is the best way to improve your reading speed and understanding. Set aside time every day for reading. Try reading different types of books or articles to challenge yourself. The more you read, the faster and better you'll become.


What is The Most Effective Approach To Improving Reading?

The most effective approach to improving reading varies from person to person, as different individuals may respond better to different methods. However, a combination of the following approaches is generally considered beneficial:

1. Read often: Make time every day to read. Choose books, articles, or anything you enjoy reading. Regular practice helps you get better at reading.

2. Learn new words: Build your vocabulary by reading different things. Look up words you don't know and try to use them in your own writing or speaking.

3. Be an active reader: When you read, underline important parts, take notes, and summarize what you've read. Ask yourself questions and try to relate it to your own life. This helps you understand and remember what you read.

4. Read different types of things: Explore different kinds of books and articles. Try fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and other types of writing. This helps you understand different styles and subjects.


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