Reading comprehension- a quick ‘how to’ Guide

Comprehension, or making meaning from texts is highly complex involving lots of higher order thinking skills and requires explicit teaching.

What does it look like?

  • Questioning
  • predicting
  • summarising
  • making connections (to your own experiences/ the wider world / other texts or characters)
  • monitoring or metacognition (knowing you’ve got stuck/something doesn’t make sense, knowing what to try and if it worked)
  • making inferences (clues from the text + your own background knowledge as a reader = inference)

When do you teach it? 

In shared reading, guided reading, reading conferences, whole class or guided group in Literacy lessons, throughout the curriculum.

How do you teach it?

1.Model it. You can voice the thoughts, questions and interactions a competent comprehender has with a text. This ‘thinking aloud’ on the part of the teacher is proven to be a powerful technique in comprehension strategy instruction.

2. Practise and apply with guidance: Provide lots of different tasks for children to explore and strengthen comprehension skills such as…

  • Independent reading journals to record personal reader response including letters to characters, summaries of events, story mapping etc
  • Drama – hot seating/ conscience alley/ readers theatre etc to explore character choices/ view points/ setting etc
  • Practise inference skills using film, picture books and day to day real life contexts
  • Structured group text work such as reciprocal teaching whereby each child is assigned a reading role: summarising, predicting, clarifying and questioning with the teacher reducing the leading and scaffolding as the children become more confident with the approaches.

3. Use high quality texts that are engaging  and will motivate the children to read, question and reflect.

For more training on effective teaching of comprehension under the new curriculum and end of Key Stage Tests contact:






Reading comprehension- a quick ‘how to’ Guide

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