How to work on reading comprehension in primary school

Reading comprehension is a basic skill that we must learn at an early age, in order to continue developing it during our adult years. For academic institutions, determining how to work on reading comprehension is important. At International School Sevilla we work on this ability from the first years of school, so that our pupils master reading. 

What is reading comprehension?

Before analysing how to work on reading comprehension in primary school, it is important to define this concept. Reading comprehension is a cognitive process, which deals with the understanding of a text. 

Reading fluently is not synonymous with understanding what has been read, in fact, studies show that it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to concentrate and evaluate the meaning of a text. Reading comprehension allows not only to read accurately and without errors, but also to analyse the content of the text, to draw conclusions and to understand while reading. 

Determining how to improve reading comprehension in primary school is fundamental, is at this stage that we begin to achieve the fluency necessary to read and understand complex texts.

How to increase reading comprehension in primary grades 

Increasing the ability to comprehend and read texts is one of the main objectives during primary school. Teachers need to know how to assess reading comprehension in primary school, in order to reinforce those pupils with difficulties. 

Below, we look at some exercises that we can carry out both in the classroom and at home, and which are aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 11, whose cognitive abilities are beginning to acquire a high level of reading comprehension. 

Answering questions

A basic exercise for assessing reading comprehension in the primary grades is based on answering questions related to the text.

The aim is to check that the student has correctly assimilated the content of the text, and therefore, will be able to answer questions related to its content based on what he or she has read. 

When we talk about how to assess reading comprehension in primary school children, the best exercise we can carry out is based on asking questions and checking whether the text has been understood.   

Summarising in writing or orally

Another very useful exercise to assess comprehension is the summary. By means of a summary we will check the parts that have been understood, the parts that have been memorised and what, in the student’s opinion, is the most important part of the text.

It is not necessary for the summary to be particularly extensive, it will be sufficient to extract the main ideas. This exercise can be carried out both orally and in writing, the important thing is that you are able to convey the meaning of the text.

Outlines and text mapping

For students who are beginning to read long or complex texts, there is nothing better than having maps and diagrams beforehand, which allow them to order the text.

Concept maps are a resource that we use more and more in the classroom, as they can be applied to different aspects of education, including the possibility of structuring written content.

Common discussions

Discussions help to form a general idea of a text among all the students in the class. Activities based on the exchange of opinions are always enriching, in the case of reading comprehension, they will allow us to share different points of view, compare the most important ideas and perceive the way in which different pupils understand the meaning of a text. 

Reading comprehension in language teaching

Reading comprehension is a general cognitive ability, which begins with reading in the mother tongue, but also carries over into any language we learn.

At International School Andalucía we attach fundamental importance to language learning, which is why we insist on the importance of reading and understanding texts in English. 

All reading requires a high degree of attention, in the case of texts in other languages it is essential that concentration is reinforced in order to determine the meaning of the content. Reading texts in several languages on a regular basis will provide optimum reinforcement to improve reading comprehension and will also help students to learn the vocabulary and grammatical structures of the language.  

Primary courses at International School Andalucía

International School Andalucía’s primary programmes go beyond those offered by other bilingual schools. Our classes are taught by native teachers, which is essential for students to become accustomed to the language from primary school onwards.

Students learn from the practical nature of the language, which includes reading comprehension and all the activities related to reading texts in English. From the third year of primary school (Year 4 in the British education system) a third language is added, so they can learn the basics at an early age.