Fourth Grade Reading Comprehension Help

Updated on December 18, 2010
K.C. asks from Forney, TX
13 answers

My daughter is in Fourth grade and loves school. She is really struggling in Reading this year. She does great in English and spelling but has a hard time with reading comprehension. Do you have any suggestions on what I can buy/get to help her?
***PLEASE do not ask me to speak with her teacher or principal because been there and done that. I need to be able to do this at home to help her become successful. She was crying today because she needed help and the teacher wouldn't help her. One of the volunteer staff actually helped her with it. Thanks for all your help.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful advice. I really appreciate it. I had a meeting with the teacher and after my daughter returns from the Christmas Break she will start being tutored for Reading Comprehension. We have started using the websites you recommended and I bought a book that Sylvan Learning Centers use for us to work through. She is reading everyday and we are going back to the methods that worked for her last year. I believe that we are on the right track.

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answers from Dallas on

Not much to add, except try the library if you need new books. They also have literacy kits that might be helpful.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm a teacher! I can help!
1)You dont need to buy her anything fancy or special - take her to the book store and let her pick out some books she wants to read. Some at or below her reading level are just fine. Junie B Jones might be a good choice. Turn off the TV and make sure she reads for 20-30 minutes every night. Also, pick a book that was one of your childhood favorites and read aloud to her 10-20 minutes every day. Books that are parts of a series are also helpful for struggling readers.
2)Do you spend alot of the time in the car? Get some books on tape/CD and listen to those while you drive. Those can be at her reading level or a little higher.
3) Strategies: Help her make "text to self" "text to text" or "text to world" connections as you read together. Text to self: When something happens in the book, ask her if that reminds her of anything that has happened in her life, or if a character is like anyone she knows. Or say, "wow, thats just like so and so..." Text to text - help her make a connection between something she is reading in a current book and something she read in another book. Text to world - a connection between what she is reading and something that is happening in the world.

Ask her questions like "Why do you think that happened? What do you think will happen next? What makes you think that? Have her make predictions and then give evidence from the story to support her prediction.

Have her summarize, or tell you what is happening in the story. These things dont have to be formal - Just - hey - what are you reading? What happened in the last chapter?

If she likes writing, have her write about the story - either do a "retelling" of the story, or draw a picture about the story. She could draw a picture of the main character in the story and include as many details as she can. Then show you or tell you where in the story she got the information to put in the character. SHe can do the same thing with the setting or the plot.

Don't be stressed and make a big production of it - just turn off the tv, the video games, computer, all other distractions and have this be something fun you can do together.

If you do watch tv or movies, pause at commercials and ask her the same comprehension questions about the tv show or movie.

I do not think any computerized reading program is as good as just plain old reading, every day, for a minumum of 20 - 30 minutes.

Good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

I would work on problem solving as much as possible, both in "reading" things and non reading things. Ask a lot of 'why' and 'what would/could happen next' questions. She needs to get into the nitty gritty and really use her brain to figure out the complex stuff of the story. I'm sure if you look at bookstores and stuff there are workbooks that help with this, but you can easily do it in your daily life. For example, if she is working on homework while you're cooking dinner then ask her questions about where did the food come from, how does she know, what would happen if the farmer ran out of hay, you get the idea...question, question, question. Also work on foreshadowing, puns, "reading between the lines", things like that.

Also get her reading anything and everything. Read maybe some harder books than her level with her. Pick a chapter book that interests her and read it together, ask lots of questions as you're going along. Also let her pick some books she wants to and can read on her own and she can work on those during her own time.

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answers from Chicago on

You don't really have to buy anything- just use books that you have at home. You can read a chapter together- or have her read it by herself- and then ask her questions about it to see what she understood from it. Start with the "in the text"questions (answers can be found in the text) and have her find and point the answer out to you. Once she's good at answering those, you can move to the deeper comprehension questions that will require her to think about what she's read because the answers won't be in black and white. If you need help with questions or want short passages, go to your local teacher's store and find a reading comprehension book for 4th grade. It will have short stories and nonfiction with questions following the paragraphs. Teachers work on comprehension from the beginning readers all the way throughout school, so it's definitely not an easy concept to understand, but very important! Work on it as much as you can, and keep working over the summer so she gets constant practice with it. You'll see improvement!! Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

I used to tutor 4th graders and found that many of them needed a reading guide.. a piece of paper or a ruler under each line..It helped to guide their eyesight..

Also on tests, I would ask the students to read the questions first and then read the passage.. They could then Highlight or underline when they found the answers,.,. this taught them to search for the information while reading..

If she has books that she enjoys, read them together and then ask her about certain parts she has just read.. Share the reading.. make sure when you are reading, you ask her about what you have just read allowed..

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answers from Dallas on

I was a 4th grade teacher for 7 years, so I completely understand what you are going through with your daughter. I would urge against buying TAKS books at the store. Those are not interesting and will not help your daughter enjoy what she is reading. I would suggest going to a book store and letting her book out a few books that interest her...fiction and nonfiction. Read the books aloud with her by taking turns. You need to stop very often and ask questions about what she is reading. I have a list of question stems for 4th grade readers. If you would like them, send me a message and I will try to find them. I have not taught in 3 years (so I could stay at home with my kids), so it may take me a little bit to find them.
The most important thing if for her to stay interested in reading. On a side note, if the teacher and principal are not helping, I would highly recommend going to speak with administration from the school district. At both of the schools I taught at, the principals always helped the teachers with struggling students. They would take the kids for some special time and work with them. I'm sorry you are going through this. Again, just send me a message, and I am more than happy to help in any way.

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answers from Davenport on

I had the same concerns with my daughter. She is in 5th grade now, and there is a big difference in her reading. In 4th she struggled with reading. As a teacher I was very concerned. She read quickly, often skipping or mispronouncing words, and missing the meaning of a large portion of the text. She her test scores were okay, but not great. The more teacher like I was with her the more she pulled away and turned off to reading.

Then she became interested in writing, the connection between reading and writing is huge. Buy, or create together, a fun journal for writing. Each evening you can both write what you are grateful for, something funny or unique that happened that day, or a short or long story. Be sure to include the fun details that make a story interesting. It will help her with recall and comprehension. It could become a fun sharing time that could have a purpose she doesn't even realize.

We went to the bookstore together and I "found" a kids book that I "really wanted to read." I told her that I was getting it because I thought it looked fun, and she could read it with me or not. At first it was a not...but when she saw me reading the first chapter she wanted to join in. She ended up interested and we shared the reading. I tried to just talk about it with her like a friend, and since it was a series we kept reading together. It was a great time together.

I also started a book club with a few of her friends. It helped that one of her friends really loved reading. I got her mom involved and together we created a fun group. The girls love getting together once a month or so to have cookies and talk about the book. I read the book with my daughter, so do a few of the other moms...some don't. Some of the books are easier, some a little more challenging, but she is excited about reading and it has helped her comprehension grow. We make a special trip to the book store each month to buy the new book, and look around at others we might want to read with the club or by ourselves. Sometimes I rent a copy at the library so that we both have our own book while we are reading helps me stay awake some nights!

Make it fun, no matter what you do. Make it enjoyable, and NOT more boring homework that she is not good at.

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answers from Columbus on


Reading comprehension is a school issue. What was her score on the third grade TAKS, or what ever Texas is calling it these days? If she did not do well, you have some leverage. She should be getting remediation at school, something called Response to Intervention, or RTI. Children who struggle do not have to be identifed to qualify. You can request that she be evaluated, and reading comprehension is one reason why children have school based evaluations. I always suggest that parents get their own evaluations too, so I would go to a Neuropsychologist and get her an evaluation so that you know exactly why she struggles with reading comprehension. If you know why, you can help her. If you don't, you will be stabbing in the dark.

This will start to effect all areas of her academic acheivement soon, so you need to get to the bottom of it, and get her targeted remediation. She may need a simple accomodation, but you have to have data to get them.


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answers from Dallas on

Try this website:

go to fourth grade and choose a book. It provides discussion questions and extensions.

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answers from Chicago on

You can find some books at a teacher store that have short passages for comprehension. Also, similar to what someone else said, so a book study with her. You and her read the same book. Get here talking about it. Discuss what has happened in the book, and predictions she has, and such. Also, ask her about the characters, setting, and what she thinks so far. You can find novel studies online with good questions to ask. Have read a little bit of it outloud to you so you can have a sense of how she reads (fast/slow, choppy, does she skip words)

As a fourth grade teacher, I want to thank you for being so in charge of your daughter's learning. I wish other parents would act as you do!

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answers from Kansas City on

It's self paced, online, 20 dollars per month and works fantastic.

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answers from Dallas on

This is very typical for fourth grade. They call it the" fourth grade slump." Reading material in fourth grade suddenly has TONS of difficult new words in it. Kids breeze over them because they are hard to sound out and some they've never heard before. The text becomes more technical at that age because they now have to bridge the gap between finally beginning to read longer texts and reading independently for comprehension in all subjects. Even the top students struggle with fourth grade vocabulary and their testing scores can drop if they don't get help. The best thing you can do for her at home is to find books she is interested in (make sure they are fourth grade level or slightly above), and have her read you a chapter or two every night. Because you are with her, you can say "does that sound right?," when she guesses or skips over a word. You can explain the terms she's unfamiliar with. Teach her to slow down when she gets to a hard word and try to decode it using phonics and her knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, etc. You can check her comprehension by asking questions about what she thinks will happen next, what she's visualizing, and asking her to make connections to other books and to her life. There are websites you can find with reading comprehension questions (not fact-checking, but building comprehension skills). If you get a really enjoyable book, she won't mind the struggle with the words so much, because she's going to want to find out what happens next. You will enjoy the time you spend having conversations about her book. DO NOT just give her hard books to read on her own. If she is struggling with comprehension, this will not help, and might make her turn away from reading. She needs to read easier books when she reads independently. You can compare some of the books she reads on to figure out her range. You really can get through this with an avid reader. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

You got some really great advice. When I taught 4th, we had a method that they draw a picture of what happened in the chapter they read and they put Mrs. Frizzell in the picture with the charachter as if she was a bystander looking on. They could draw the main idea of the chapter or their favorite part, which ever is easier. It makes them think in picture form what is happening as they read, and the class loved doing that. They decided as a class what Mrs. Frizzell looked like so they all recognize her as who SHE is and not that she is one of the characters in the book. Perhaps this would really help your daughter, for it surely did help the 4th graders I taught. Start out with her section. Help her pick it out and talk about with her what went on. Sometimes they divided the paper in four parts and drew several favorite parts. Mrs. Frizzel was always stuck somewhere in the drawing!

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