Reading comprehension is so crucial for early readers. Yet, many parents don’t know what it is or even how to improve this valuable literary skill. In basic terms, reading comprehension is the ability to understand what you read, while you’re reading it. Many children (and even adults) will spend so much time trying to read the text in front of them that they don’t absorb what they’re reading. Check out these fun games and quick tips to help improve reading comprehension and sharpen early literacy skills.

Struggling to read something without understanding it can lead to boredom, confusion, and frustration. Sometimes kids dislike reading because they’re not comprehending what they read. Alternatively, they don’t recognize the words they’re trying to understand. Learning comprehension skills often start with word recognition, and many of these games and tips will point you in the right direction for reading readiness!

Zingo Sight Words

Early readers can brush up on sight words with Zingo from ThinkFun. Zingo develops foundational reading skills, which is great for pre-readers and beginning readers. It teaches recognition of essential concepts in a fun “Bingo style” game that can later be applied to independent reading. Zingo Sight Words is built to develop critical thinking skills through fun and fast-paced play.

Teacher Tip: Try not to focus on the negative. If your child is reading aloud, basic mistakes are okay! You don’t need to correct every word they read. Guide them but avoid stopping them for every error. Good readers eventually learn to self-correct.

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After Words

Vocabulary and language skills go hand-in-hand with reading comprehension. After Words from Educational Insights is a fast-paced vocabulary-building game, where players must name a word that matches one of their category cards and begins with the letter in play. This type of play encourages quick-thinking skills and vocabulary development, both of which help to develop confident readers!

Teacher Tip: Choose a story for you and your child to read together. Take turns reading the pages aloud or make sure you each have your copy of a book to read together (this works well with chapter books, especially). Talk to your child about the story, almost like your own private book club! Discussing what you read in a fun, stress-free manner helps to promote a love of literature without pressure.

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uKloo

Kids can read, think, and move as they solve riddles to find surprises. The uKloo Riddle Edition is an engaging seek-and-find literacy game that combines thinking skills with physically active fun. Designed for ages seven and up, uKloo reaches a variety of levels and learners. There are even opportunities to boost problem-solving skills (through their hints booklet) and creative writing (through their ‘Write Your Own Riddle’ card). The uKloo Riddle Edition now offers an app, too, for those who prefer to use a tech device instead.

Teacher Tip: Find a reading incentive. Many libraries offer reading incentive programs. Kids can join book clubs to keep track of their reading, with goals to achieve and prizes or certificates for accomplishments. Although this alone won’t improve reading comprehension, you can join in the fun and discuss the books with your child, giving them even more reasons to read. Prizes, clues, and treasure hunts are great motivators!

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Word Waffle

Word Waffle from Edupress is a thought-provoking vocabulary game, available for various grade levels. Players “waffle” between answers of multiple-choice questions. They can use prediction strategies or fill in the blank to solve. Not only are students learning different vocabulary words, but they’re also using reading comprehension strategies to find the meaning of each term.

Teacher Tip: One of the best ways to check for reading comprehension is to pause while reading. Ask your child what the story is about or ask them to make predictions. After they read you a page (or even a few lines), ask them questions about the text: Why do you think the character acted this way? What do you think will happen next? Who is your favorite character so far, and why? If they can’t answer basic questions about the text, chances are, they are not comprehending what they’re reading.

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Hot Dots: Let’s Master Reading

The Hot Dots system from Educational Insights is a hands-on learning experience that offers reading readiness to pre-school, kindergarteners, and emergent readers. The interactive Ace pen (the Talking, Teaching Dog), helps children with letter recognition, reading readiness, phonics, sight words, punctuation, and grammar. There are even challenge reading lessons for more advanced learners. The Hot Dots pens come in a variety of sets and styles, but the Let’s Master Reading kit is an excellent choice for polishing up those reading comprehension skills.

Teacher Tip: ‘Stop and jots’ are another way to check for reading comprehension. Ask your child to stop reading after a few chapters (or sentences). Give them a post-it note pad to stop and “jot down’ any questions or comments they have about the text. If your child is reluctant to do this, even one word or drawing will work, such as a “funny part” or “silly character.” These stop and jots are helpful to return to later or to get your child talking about the story.

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Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you feel like your child is lagging in reading, talk with a teacher, librarian, or reading support instructor for suggestions (or to rule out underlying issues). For more fun games, toys and ideas, check out all of The Toy Insider’s educational reviews, as well as these Storytelling Board Games!