Comprehension is the whole purpose for reason. It is the final outcome – we want our students to look at words on a page and understand the message we are trying to convey. 

So, it makes sense that many parents are concerned about reading comprehension. 

While these concerns are valid, there are some important things to consider! 

1.) Word Reading

For a student to understand what they are reading, they must relatively easy access to the words on the page. If they are spending their time trying to figure out what the words say, there is not a lot of brain power left over to figure out the meaning of those words. 

Surprisingly, this is often overlooked. When reading comprehension problems are noticed or suspected, I ALWAYS recommend completing a few assessment sub-tests that assess single word reading.

If there is any difficulty in word decoding or word recognition, this is a problem that needs to be addressed first. Once a student becomes fast and accurate at reading words, you may see the comprehension difficulty melt away. 

2.) Language Comprehension

Honestly, it is quite rare to see a child that struggles ONLY with reading comprehension. There is almost a problem with READING, as mentioned above. When there isn’t, we must assess a student’s oral language comprehension. How well do they follow directions, answer questions, and demonstrate comprehension of paragraphs and stories? 

It is important to administer a few subtests to assess how well the student comprehends what they hear. Generally, any difficulty understanding spoken language will directly translate to difficulty with written language comprehension. In other words, there is not a reading comprehension problem – there is just an underlying comprehension problem, whether reading or listening. 

Occasionally, students demonstrate STRONGER scores for reading comprehension than they do for oral/listening comprehension.  In these cases, we want to rule out any hearing problems, and then organization an assessment of attention and memory.

3.) Working Memory

Working memory problems are a common culprit when students are struggling. Working memory difficulties may show up in grammar use, math, comprehension, writing, etc.  Working memory is an important skill across many academic tasks. Sometimes, a difficulty with reading comprehension can be attributable to difficulties in working memory. This is something that a psychologist can assess to provide more information on. 

Reading comprehension difficulties are often easily identified. However, the root cause or SOURCE of the difficulty is not often obvious. Careful and thorough assessment will usually identify the weak skills that underpin reading comprehension performance.  Once any weak skills are identified, a therapy plan to address those skills can be created.

Have questions or concerns? Talk to a Speech – Language Pathologist TODAY and discover your child’s learning profile and the true nature underlying any learning or communication difficulty they are having!