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Reading Comprehension Strategies for Struggling Readers of All Ages

You would be surprised how many children, teens, and adults struggle with comprehending what they read each day. There is an art to reading without struggling through it, and trust me, I have been there. Part of being a successful reader is learning strategies that will work for your specific learning style.

Reading was not always easy for me. In fact, because of my difficulty remembering what I read, I avoided reading as much as possible. The only reading I completed was the requirements necessary for school work. Then, in my early twenties, I read my first book for pleasure that was not part of an assignment for school. Next, in my late 20’s, I mastered a few skills that helped me truly learn the art of reading and remembering. This contributed to not only finishing my Bachelor’s Degree, but also graduating with a 4.0.

A few years later, I began teaching struggling readers in High School Special Education, then Compensatory Education, and lastly Adult Basic Skills programming. I noticed some of the same themes from my students that I had experienced as a struggling reader. Now, I can share those tips with you to help you master reading too.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Below are five strategies that can be used to help you remember and understand what you are reading.

1-Set the scene for reading

What type of environment do you need to read? Do you require a quiet, distraction-free space? Do you like to have background noise while you read? It is important to know what works best for you and stick to it. If you aren’t sure, try reading in several different environments to see what is best for your learning style.

2-Activate prior knowledge-

What do you know about the topic you are reading? Study the title and activate what you might already know about the subject matter. If you are reading a book, look over the cover and the prologue to see if there is anything you can connect with. Most of the time, struggling readers have a hard time comprehending something that they have no connections to. Find a connection to what you are reading and think about that to make further connections to the story. This also helps readers to stay focused on the content, rather than having a wandering mind while reading.

3-Visualize what you are reading-

Try to picture what it is you are reading about, almost as if you are watching a movie in your mind as you read the words. Create a mental image of the connections you have to the reading passage and add to that as you continue to read. If you are a visual learner, this strategy is a great one for you.

4-Read aloud when possible-

If you are an auditory learner, reading out loud, following along with someone reading, or listening to a book on tape, will be the most helpful for you. When you read passages out loud, you are able to practice not only reading fluency skills, but also pronunciations. This can assist in those comprehension skills in a different type of way.

5-Take notes-

Writing down ideas, main points, and questions as you read gives you something to refer to. Those who are linguistic learners and kinesthetic learners need to be actively involved in reading with movement, writing, and language. This strategy caters to both of those learning styles and helps readers remember what they have read, since they have notes to review. This strategy helped me through both my Bachelors and my Masters programs. Read everything and take notes, I promise it will help you make wonderful grades.

To find out more about your learning style, click here to take a quiz created by I hope that these five strategies will be helpful for you or someone you know. Do you have a strategy that is not on this list? Feel free to share it in the comments.

Wendi Iacobello

Wendi Iacobello is an Army wife and a Beagle mom. She has spent the last nine years as an adult educator, has a Master of Arts in Educational Media and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Her teaching career includes; Middle and High School Special Education, Correctional Education, and Community College Instruction in Early Childhood Education, Compensatory Ed, as well as Adult Basic Education. Currently, she is a blogger, freelance writer, instructional designer, and avid volunteer. In her free time, you can usually find her volunteering at USO’s story time, outdoors in the garden, running, cooking up a new recipe, or playing fetch with Daizi. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others find their inner strength by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength 4 Spouses.

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