Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills that a child will learn in school. Early on, they form a solid foundation on which to base future lessons, and it is necessary that they be able to keep up with the their classmates as the years go on. At about eight years old, when the child is in third grade, there is a progression from reading very basic, primary books, to more informative books, and they are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn.
Today we are discussing the reading comprehension of the average third grader. While some are faster and others a bit slower, these are the basic guidelines that can be used as measuring sticks for your young reader. If your child is having issues reading, and is feeling a bit stressed about it, this course on managing stress in children may help smooth things over, and this course on how your parenting style affects your child illustrates how your current parenting tactics will have an effect on your adult children.
What Should Your 3rd Grader Know?
As with most aspects of child-rearing, parents often worry if their children are “normal”, and when it comes to their child’s reading comprehension, it’s no different. As we said before, no one is the same, and progress happens at different speeds, but by the time they reach the third grade, there are some milestones they should have already reached, or will reach, around this time. Right now, we will discuss some of the major reading milestones that your third grader should be experiencing.
- Expanding Their Horizons
Like we said before, reading itself should no longer be the object of the learning, but a tool for learning other things. They should be able to grasp the basic concepts laid out by any number of genres of books, including fiction, biographies, myths, fables, etc. They will also be gleaning from these sources new vocabulary, as well as basic language tools such as similes, metaphors, and other non-literal aspects of language. They should also be picking out their own reading materials at this point, too. A good rule of thumb, so to speak, of picking out an age-appropriate book is to open it up to any page, and if there are five words they don’t understand, it may be a little above them.
- Ability to Research
At this age, reference books should becoming a part of their research process, with them gaining the ability to use the index, glossary, table of contents, and other parts of a reference book to find what they are looking for. They also may start to grasp the meanings of pictographic learning aids, like graphs, charts, and diagrams.
If a child’s reading comprehension is a bit behind, they might have trouble with words they’ve never seen before. However, if they are on schedule, they should be able to use their knowledge of roots, suffixes, and prefixes to sound out a new word, and pronounce it correctly. After figuring out the pronunciation, they should also have the skills to decipher its meaning from context clues, and, if necessary, look up the word in a dictionary.
- Reading Smoothly
At around second and third grade, the child should be smoothing out their reading, reading less word-to-word, and more in sentence form, with more expression. This is helpful not only in sounding like a good reader, but children tend to comprehend more of what they read if it sounds more natural to them, and they should be able to hone their reading skills by reading independently. If you’re a parent, and are curious about speed reading, this course on reading and learning faster
- Reading Differently for Different Styles
Because non-fiction books are coming into the picture around this age, the third grader should realize that different styles of books require different skills and strategies in order to understand them. If their research requires a reference book, or non-fiction book, they should know to read slower, and use the various guides in the book, like bold words, captions, headings, tables of contents, etc.
Tips to Help Reading Comprehension
If your third grader is a bit behind in her reading comprehension, or you just want to guide them along, or get them ready for this time, there are some things you can do to encourage more reading, and to make it a part of their life now, as well as in the future.
- Make it Special
If you associate fun things with reading, they’ll be more likely to do it more often, and for fun. Make the trip to the library an adventure, then get them their own library card. Buy them books for special occasions, trying to get them to associate getting and reading books with fun.
- Keep it Going
In order to get them to read more, introduce them to different series of books, where they’ll need to pick up the next book to continue the story.
- Talk About the World
When doing anything, whether it’s mundane, like watching TV, or something new and fun, like going to the zoo, talk about what is going on and what you see. Keeping a conversation going like this will not only help with reading comprehension, it will aid in the development of listening skills and background knowledge.
It’s important that your child develop reading comprehension skills that roughly correspond with their peers, but don’t forget that everyone is different. For every gifted eight year old that’s reading Shakespeare, there’s another slower one that’s struggling with Green Eggs and Ham – if that’s the case with your child, and they’re getting upset, this course on fostering optimism in your child will help give them a good outlook on life. The best you can do as a parent is to encourage them, and try to help them out along the way, and hope they’ll catch up. If you’d like a little help boosting reading comprehension, this article on improving reading skills has seven strategies that may help you out.