i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Comprehension Skills

Tactics for Guiding Young Readers

It’s a magical moment when a child is able to blend words and read. However, that’s not the end of their reading journey. The next stage is to fully understand what’s on the page, and there are many ways parents and teachers can help them do this. Take a look at these five essential steps to guide a child’s reading:

Building on existing knowledge

In order to encourage them to engage with more complex texts, we can follow the child’s interests. If books about trucks and trains are what they’re drawn to, that’s great – the child’s enthusiasm will grow for reading, and they’ll develop comprehension skills by applying their pre-existing knowledge.

Looking for 5 W’s

Some young readers focus so hard on reading the words, they lose track of the meaning of what they’re reading. In order to help them engage more in what they are reading, we should make sure they’re focused on the 5 w’s: who, what, when, where and why. With regular practice of this both before, during and after reading, they understand how to focus on key information as they read.

Building up vocabulary

Vocabulary is key to understanding new and more difficult texts. Learning new vocabulary through supported reading builds up a young reader’s vocabulary bank. Help your young learner by modelling the use of context clues to understand tricky words.

Visualising what they read

Some concepts can be very abstract for young readers, such as characters’ relationships in the story. We can help them draw a mind map or a flowchart to make these clear. Young learners can also visualise descriptions by drawing a picture of a character or situation. These techniques help children practise skills that will come naturally and be even more helpful as they tackle complex texts.

Asking questions to check

Young learners are often so excited they can read that they want to show off this skill. They finish ‘reading’ a book in a flash by flipping through the pages, picking up some key words, guessing from the illustrations, creating the story by reading the first and the last paragraph, and using many more tricks. In order to get them back on track, we can ask them comprehension questions during or after reading that require slowing down and reading carefully. Asking questions at the end of each page is a great way to model engagement with a text.


Reading is an ongoing process, and every small step counts. As long as young readers still have regular reading practice, progress is always achievable. And of course, we are always ready to give them our patience, encouragement and guidance.