Irvine English Tutoring: 4 Reading Comprehension Tips


Students are settling into the new school year and getting used to having homework assignments once again. One of the things elementary-aged students will need to work on is reading chapter books that will be discussed in class. In most cases, students will be required to complete a book report, write summaries of chapters, answer questions about characters and setting, and have a discussion in the classroom. One of the biggest issues younger learners have is organizing their chapter books so they can finish the assignment on time. If a student is on track they will learn a lot and be able to participate in class but, if they fall too far behind the assignment can become overwhelming – do well in your English class with the help of private Irvine English tutoring from TutorNerds.

1. Set a timeline for the entire book

It’s a good idea if students can have a timeline for their book. For instance, perhaps there are 16 chapters and the report is due in two weeks time. This means students will have to read about one and a half chapters per day to finish promptly. It also gives them the weekend to catch up if they fall behind. Alternatively, if a teacher has mentioned that students will be discussing certain chapters on certain days, parents can encourage their kids to follow that timeline. Setting a schedule in advance helps students avoid needing to read all 16 chapters the day before the book report is due. If students are struggling with time management, they should consider working with a tutor who can help identify if they need to work on study skills or reading comprehension to help them improve.

2. Talk to the teachers about reading pace

Each child reads at their own pace, and there are two elements to consider in this situation. How quickly or slowly does the student read? And, how much of the passage do students understand while reading? In some cases, a speed reader can get through the book very quickly but might not understand intricate character development needed to complete their report. Additionally, a slower reader might have a full comprehension of the subject matter but struggles to get the assignment done on time. It’s beneficial to talk with the classroom teacher and figure out a reasonable range of time to spend on at-home reading. If two chapters should take 20 minutes according to the teacher than a reasonable range would be between 15 and 30 minutes, for instance. If a student is far out of this range, it’s a good idea to sit down with kids and see which elements they might be missing (READ: The Importance of Repetition in Elementary School).

3. Talk about the difference between skimming and close reading

There’s a big difference between skimming and doing a close reading. Each skill is important and is used for different types of reading at school. Skimming is appropriate when a student is re-reading a textbook to search for a certain concept or test question they need to study. This helps students find what they’re looking for quickly so they can then focus on it fully. On the other hand, a close reading will include annotations (underlining and highlighting) along with notes about the setting, characters, or informative elements. It’s important for students to understand the difference between the two skills and when they are appropriate.

4. Write summaries and take notes

If kids are breezing through their chapter books too quickly or struggling to meet a deadline they will often benefit from writing a brief summary or taking some notes as they read.  When students write a two or three sentence summary at the end of each chapter it lets the parent or tutor know if the student actually understood what they were reading. As a result, they can tackle the information one chapter at a time rather than trying to work on the entire book. Taking notes is also a great skill that all students should be doing in their language arts classes. Taking notes help students determine what happens to each character and how they change throughout the novel as well as understand various plot elements and why they were important. Good note-taking is refined with time and practice.

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