What Impacts Reading Comprehension?

What Impacts Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is understanding and making meaning from what you read. It's an essential skill for students to develop because it helps them better understand the subject matter they are studying.

Reading comprehension can be broken down into three parts:

  • Comprehending (understanding) what you read
  • Interpreting (making sense of) what you read
  • Applying what you've learned

Why is Reading Comprehension Important?

Reading comprehension is vital for success in school and in life. Understanding any subject matter--from the most basic reading material to the most complex scientific studies--is essential for functioning in society. Reading comprehension skills are also crucial for critical thinking, growth, and personal development.

The Science of Reading

Reading comprehension is a complex skill that involves many different skills, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and vocabulary. Unfortunately, many of our current school systems are not relying on the scientific research done to back up teaching these skills. For example, suppose our students cannot hear and manipulate sounds and words. In that case, they will likely not be able to decode new words and new vocabulary or read passages fluently. And if our children can not read fluently, understanding what they are reading will take a toll.

We need to be proactive in ensuring our schools' curriculum supports this development. This science is explicit and structured teaching of letters, sounds, and how they work together.

How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Individuals can strengthen their reading comprehension abilities by understanding the science of reading and applying various strategies. This can lead to better academic performance, increased critical thinking skills, and greater reading enjoyment. Here are some additional strategies to try to further enhance reading comprehension:

Read aloud: When reading aloud you read slower giving more time to process. This also allows an opportinity to bond over books because you are creating a shared experience.

Make sure books on the right level: If a book is too hard the reader will spend so much time trying to decode the comprehension will decrease drastically. Accuratly reading at least 90% of the words without any help is vital.

Engaging with the text: Active reading is crucial for comprehension. This means asking questions while you read, making predictions, and connecting new information to your prior knowledge. By doing this, readers can better understand and remember the material in the long term.

Creating Connection: If your child is reading a book in school on a specific topic build conncetions by watching a movie about the topic, reading different books, or visiting a location. These connections are great for understanding a story they are reading.

Visualize: Creating mental images while reading can help solidify the material in your mind. This is especially helpful when reading descriptive passages or complex concepts. In addition, visualizing can make the content more memorable and easier to comprehend.

Summarize: After reading a section or chapter, take a moment to summarize the main ideas in your own words. This will reinforce your understanding and help you retain the information. Furthermore, summarizing helps identify what parts of the reading material require additional study or clarification.

Expand your vocabulary: A strong vocabulary is indispensable in reading comprehension. Make a habit of looking up unfamiliar words while reading and practice using them in context. This will improve your comprehension and enrich your overall language skills.

Reread: Don't hesitate to reread a passage that is particularly challenging or contains complex ideas. Rereading can help clarify confusing concepts and deepen your understanding of the material. This will also build fluency because the more you practice recognizing the same words over and over again the better you will become at reading them.

Discuss: Sharing what you've read with others can help solidify your understanding and provide new perspectives on the material. Engaging in discussions that allow you to ask questions, share your thoughts, and gain a deeper understanding of the text. This will also help in making connections to life, friends, family, and other texts.

Practice: Like any skill, reading comprehension improves with practice. Dedicate time each day to reading various materials; fiction, non-fiction, news articles, and academic texts are all enjoyable and challenging in different ways. Becoming more familiar with varying writing styles and subjects ultimately enhances your reading comprehension abilities.

Remember, if you or your child continue to struggle with reading comprehension despite employing these strategies, seeking professional help is essential. An evaluation by an educational specialist or psychologist can determine if there is an underlying learning disability, such as dyslexia, that may be affecting your reading comprehension. Early intervention and appropriate accommodations can make a significant difference in overcoming these challenges and achieving success in school and beyond.

When to Seek Testing for Special Education

If your child is struggling with reading, a few signs that could indicate dyslexia are:

  • Have trouble sounding out words and understanding what they read
  • Struggle to read fluently (they might stutter or repeat themselves)
  • Read slowly or skip over words without realizing it

If you notice these behaviors in your child, it's worth seeking testing for special education services.

I suspect dyslexia, send me a checklist

Testing for Dyslexia

If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, schedule a full comprehensive educational evaluation with the school. This will include intelligence testing, reading tests, and writing tests. Oral language skills are also essential to assess because they can be affected by problems with speech sound production or comprehension.

These evaluations aim to determine whether there is a problem with how the brain processes information (specifically related to language). If so, it could be due to a learning disability such as dyslexia or another condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


In conclusion, reading comprehension is a vital skill that contributes to academic success and enhances critical thinking and overall intellectual growth. Individuals can bolster their reading comprehension abilities by employing various strategies, such as active reading, visualization, summarizing, expanding vocabulary, rereading, discussing, and practicing. If challenges persist, seeking professional help and assessments can be a valuable step in identifying underlying learning disabilities and developing tailored accommodations. Ultimately, the journey to improving reading comprehension is a lifelong process that fosters a deeper appreciation for the written word, empowering individuals to navigate the vast world of knowledge with confidence and curiosity.

If you have concerns about your child's ability to read and would like a list of dyslexia indicators, please fill out the form below. If you want help from an advocate or educational consultant navigate the path the finding your child eligible for special education services because of their struggle to learn to read, set up a 20-minute consultation with me.