I use the following reading strategies with my students to help them become more involved with their reading. These can be used with the struggling reader to help increase her comprehension and to help her alleviate any frustration.

HOWEVER, the most important element to comprehending what one reads is background knowledge. Many students that I have tutored had been introduced to these strategies but they were still having trouble comprehending what they read. If this is happening with your child, then his background knowledge is probably not broad enough.

Reading strategies, once taught and mastered, does not need to be retaught over and over again. Often times many grammar textbooks will concentrate on the main idea, and the supporting sentences. This is okay when a student is seeking how to make meaning from print during reading. It is also necessary for students to know when they learn how to write paragraphs.

HOWEVER, once a student learns what a main idea is and what supporting sentences are, usually in about 6 lessons, there is no point in revisiting this topic. What is important is that they are able to relate this information to what is relevant in the reading and how the details will help answer the who, what and where.


  1. Students should be taught to ask themselves who, what, when, where, why and how. These questions will help them understand what they are reading.

  2. The teacher can help students understand when to ask these questions by reading a passage and going through the thought process out loud.
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This drawing was done by Paulo Jimenez. Click the picture to see more from Paulo.

3.  Students can read a passage in pairs. Have one student read; the other student will ask the questions. This can also be done with a parent or teacher asking the questions and the child doing the reading. Then switch so the parent/teacher is reading and the child is asking the questions about what was just read. This will help the student practice this part of the reading strategies out loud.

  • Teach students how important it is to look up definitions of unfamiliar words. For students with a learning disability, a Franklin Dictionary is a great tool.

  • Activate her background knowledge by asking her if she knows anything about what she is about to read.

  • When the student is done reading, ask him to summarize what he just read. This can be at the end of a paragraph, at the end of a page or at the end of the chapter. In order to teach this skill, start with summarizing the paragraph and work up to summarizing the book.

    • As the student is reading, teach him to look for clues that might answer a question later. Help him make connections to what was read earlier (prior knowledge) to what he just finished reading.
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  • After the student verbalizes the summary, ask him to write it down. If he has a problem remembering what he said, use a tape recorder as he is verbalizing the summary. He can play this back as he is writing the summary. The teacher can also help him make a word web or paragraph web as he is talking.

  • A graphic organizer is an excellent tool. It is a visual that helps the reader remember what is happening in the story. This is a must for any LD student. A graphic organizer helps with organizing the student's thoughts.


    The same strategies listed above will work with content reading. Content reading is reading textbooks. HOWEVER, here is an easy acronym, INFER, to help students remember what they need to do when they are "on their own."

    • I - Interact with the passage or chapter. Preview the titles and subtitles in the chapter to determine what the chapter is about. Preview the chapter questions in order to ascertain what the important points are.

    • N - Note what is known. Activate background knowledge.

    • F - Find the clues. Look for the clues that will answer the chapter questions.

    • E - Explore more details. Be on the look out for more than one clue to the questions.

    • R - Return to the question. Make sure the right clue is for the question asked.
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