Helping Teens to Comprehend What They Read

By Kay Ireland
Provide a distraction-free atmosphere for better reading.
Provide a distraction-free atmosphere for better reading.

Reading comprehension is much more than just seeing words on a page. It refers to getting the right information from and thinking about those words. Your teen might know how to read, but comprehension might not come as easily to him. By setting him up for reading success, you can ensure that he's getting the most out of his reading assignments and understanding more than just a collection of words on the pages of a book.

Distraction-Free Zone

With cell phones, computers and TVs nearby, it's no wonder your teen doesn't retain everything she reads -- especially when she's texting a friend when she's supposed to be learning about book themes. Help your teen comprehend what she reads by providing her a space in your home completely free of distractions. It should be a room that is comfortable and quiet, with her phone in another room. It may also help for your teen to listen to music while she reads. Experiment and come up with an environment that is more conducive to reading and concentrating.

Read Together

If you notice that your teen is having a hard time concentrating on and understanding what he's reading, form your own book club. Make a commitment to read whatever book he's currently reading for school or pleasure so that when he does have questions about what he's reading, you're on the same page -- literally and figuratively. It also gives you an opportunity to ask questions about the book and discuss various themes and characters so your teen absorbs even more.

Use The 5 Ws

Who, what, where, when and why -- five important questions that are answered by each and every book that your teen reads. Create a worksheet for your teen where the basics are answered for each story. While you may have to coax your teen to think about the basic questions for each book she reads, the exercise should help her to make it a habit, according to Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts in an article for Soon, deciphering what is happening in a book will come more naturally.

Find a Connection

One way to help your teen comprehend more of what he reads is to help him find a personal connection with one of the characters or theme, suggests the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A disconnect between your teen and what he's reading can cause him to lose interest or read without really thinking about the book. Ask your teen questions about which character he likes the best or which theme he thinks is the most important to help create that personal connection and get even more out of reading time.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.