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Improve 4th Grade Reading Comprehension Skills

written by: Stephanie Torreno • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/20/2012

Are you wondering how to help your child with reading comprehension? If you are, you should know that comprehension not only involves understanding meaning, but also increasing fluency and building vocabulary. Continue reading to learn specific ways to improve a fourth grader's reading skills.

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    What Skills Should a 4th Grader Know?

    As in third grade, fourth grade reading skills continue to focus on comprehension. Unlike third graders, though, fourth graders have a better attention span, can read more quickly, and have had more life experiences than younger children.

    Importance of Reading Out Loud

    Reading aloud to your older child is still important, though. Even better, have your child take turns with you. This works especially well if the reading contains different characters and dialog. Improve reading comprehension when reading aloud by explaining what comprehension means. Talk about character development and how the author uses it to develop meaning. Discuss comprehension strategies such as connecting ideas, visualizing, questioning, and determining significance. Remind your child to use these strategies when reading alone.

    While reading aloud together, emphasize the main idea and talk about how to predict outcomes by asking questions. To further demonstrate reading comprehension, create some directions for making a simple recipe. Write easy directions that are easy to sound out, but do not make sense. Discuss how lack of clarity makes for a bad recipe and why comprehension is important.

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    Increasing Fluency

    When children read aloud, they also improve fluency, or reading speed and ease. Fourth graders should reread books, read books aloud to younger children, and record themselves reading. Have the child try to achieve a fast, fluid pace. Research has shown that the faster a child can read, the more the child’s brain comprehends the material.

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    Building Vocabulary

    To improve your child’s vocabulary, talk about word meanings in all areas of life, including shopping trips and social occasions. Let your child see you using the dictionary when you do not know the meaning of a word. Research has shown that adequate reading comprehension depends on a reader knowing 90-95 percent of the words on the page.

    Memorizing new vocabulary can be very difficult for some children. To make it easier, especially for visual learners, help your child create a handmade vocabulary book. Children can use their artistic abilities, or cut out pictures in magazines, to illustrate new words. Older students even find this activity helping in learning new vocabulary.

    Finally, make sure your child sees you read. Share the love of reading with your child. Go to the library and bookstore together. If your child has a favorite subject, let the child choose books dedicated to it. Reading comprehension has been shown to dramatically improve if fourth graders immerse themselves in the same topic for up to two weeks.