Reading comprehension

There’s a big difference between Year 2 reading comprehension and Year 6 reading comprehension. But the fact is that each of them is a step on the learning ladder! Let’s delve into the world of words and learn what reading comprehension is and how to improve at it.

english app

Reading comprehension resources

Pick a guide below and dive into the wonderful world of reading comprehension!

Similies

Similes compare two different things, usually using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to show how they’re similar to each other. Similies are figures of speech that are similar to metaphors.

Metaphors

A metaphor compares two things, but instead of saying they’re similar to each other, it says they’re the same as each other. We might say, ‘studying is a stream’ or ‘she has a heart of gold’.

Main idea

The main idea is the primary takeaway the author wants the reader to leave it. To understand the main idea, you must comprehend the text ysing context clues. inferencing & more!

Figurative
language

Figurative language helps us to communicate a deeper meaning within our writing. We can also use figurative language to make our words more captivating to our reader.

Point of
view

The point of view in writing is who is telling the story. It refers to the first person (I/we), the second person (you) or the third person (he/she/it/they).

Context
clues

Context clues are when we get to play detective. If you don’t know what a word means, sometimes you can look at the words around it to work it out. 

Inferencing

An inference is like a clever guess. You wouldn’t know if something happened if you weren’t there, but you can use clues to work it out. Sometimes we infer the main idea of a text.

Idioms

Idioms are different in all languages. They are well-known sayings or phrases that might sound silly, or not make sense unless you’ve had them explained to you. ‘

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is used to emphasise meaning or bring attention to a point in a piece of writing. Typically via exaggeration, ‘I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!’.

Cause and
effect

In writing, cause and effect is about when one thing makes another happen – and what that might be. ‘I spilt my orange juice over my homework’, so ‘My homework was destroyed!’.

Point of
view

Context
clues

Similies

Similes compare two different things, usually using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to show how they’re similar to each other. Similies are figures of speech that are similar to metaphors.

Metaphors

A metaphor compares two things, but instead of saying they’re similar to each other, it says they’re the same as each other. We might say, ‘studying is a stream’ or ‘she has a heart of gold’.

Main idea

The main idea is the primary takeaway the author wants the reader to leave it. To understand the main idea, you must comprehend the text ysing context clues. inferencing & more!

Figurative
language

Figurative language helps us to communicate a deeper meaning within our writing. We can also use figurative language to make our words more captivating to our reader.

Point of
view

The point of view in writing is who is telling the story. It refers to the first person (I/we), the second person (you) or the third person (he/she/it/they).

Context
clues

Context clues are when we get to play detective. If you don’t know what a word means, sometimes you can look at the words around it to work it out. 

Inferencing

An inference is like a clever guess. You wouldn’t know if something happened if you weren’t there, but you can use clues to work it out. Sometimes we infer the main idea of a text.

Idioms

Idioms are different in all languages. They are well-known sayings or phrases that might sound silly, or not make sense unless you’ve had them explained to you. ‘

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is used to emphasise meaning or bring attention to a point in a piece of writing. Typically via exaggeration, ‘I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!’.

Cause and
effect

In writing, cause and effect is about when one thing makes another happen – and what that might be. ‘I spilt my orange juice over my homework’, so ‘My homework was destroyed!’.

What is reading comprehension?

Reading comprehension is the ability to understand, interpret, and derive meaning from written text. It involves several cognitive processes and skills that work together to allow a reader to grasp the information being communicated. Vocabulary, grammar, figurative language, inferencing, and understanding plot are all key factors of reading comprehension.

When do children learn about reading comprehension?

Children begin to learn reading comprehension skills early in their education, typically starting in the Reception year (ages 4-5) and continuing throughout their primary and secondary schooling.

Throughout their schooling, children in the UK are provided with a structured approach to developing reading comprehension skills, progressing from basic understanding in the early years to more advanced and critical analysis in secondary education. This progression ensures that by the time students finish their compulsory education, they are equipped with the necessary skills to understand and interpret a wide range of texts.

Here’s a further breakdown of reading comprehension by age:

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

  • Reception Year (Ages 4-5): At this stage, children are introduced to the basics of reading. The focus is on developing phonics skills, recognising letters and sounds, and beginning to read simple words and sentences. Basic comprehension skills are introduced through activities like discussing stories, identifying characters, and answering simple questions about a text.

 

Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

In Years 1 and 2, children continue to build on their phonics knowledge and start reading more complex texts. They begin to develop comprehension skills through:

    • Discussing Books: Talking about the content, characters, and events in stories.
    • Answering Questions: Responding to questions about the text to demonstrate understanding.
    • Retelling Stories: Summarizing the main events in their own words.
    • Predicting: Making predictions about what might happen next in a story.

 

Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-11)

Reading comprehension in KS2 is further developed and refined. Activities include:

    • Analysing Texts: Understanding themes, plots, and character motivations.
    • Inference and Deduction: Making inferences based on the text and reading between the lines.
    • Evaluating: Forming opinions about the text and justifying them with evidence.
    • Summarising: Summarising longer texts and identifying main ideas and supporting details.
    • Using Context Clues: Determining the meaning of new words from context.

 

Key Stage 3 and Beyond (Ages 11+)

Reading comprehension skills continue to be a crucial part of the secondary school curriculum, with a focus on more complex and varied texts, including literature, non-fiction, and media texts. Students:

    • Critically Analyse Texts: Evaluate and critique texts for deeper meanings, themes, and contexts.
    • Comparative Reading: Compare and contrast different texts and their approaches.
    • Advanced Inference: Make sophisticated inferences and understand subtler nuances.
    • Critical Thinking: Develop critical thinking skills and the ability to argue and debate textual interpretations.

Why reading and comprehension matters

Mastering reading comprehension has more benefits than we could ever possibly list! Firstly, it is great fun when you can read a whole book and understand it by yourself. It also helps your brain work to the best of its ability. Reading comprehension means you learn more about the world, and this means you have more ways you can imagine new thoughts and ideas.

Reading comprehension activities

Here are some activities you can use to help you develop strong comprehension skills. Remember, there is a big difference in how you learn between years. Activities should be tailored for the appropriate age group. For example, you can’t use the same content for reading comprehension in Year 3 as for reading comprehension in Year 4.

  • Story building activities
  • Historical timelines
  • Matching pairs
  • Dice storytelling
  • Visual prompts
  • Memory games and songs
  • Character creation colouring game
  • Group storytime
  • Call and response

How to improve reading comprehension

Everyone has something they can improve with their reading comprehension, even grown-ups! The most important thing you can do to strengthen reading comprehension skills is read, read, and read some more. It’s also important to expand vocabulary and practise summarising, inferencing, and critically thinking about texts.

If you want hands-on help with your reading comprehension, take a look at our English app. It supports students in KS1 and KS2 and is aligned to the national curriculum.

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