The Relationship Between Reading as a Family and Children’s Reading Comprehension

May 30, 2020
The bond that children have with their families plays a very important role in developing reading comprehension skills. That's why it's crucial for parents and guardians to teach children to read and make their reading experiences meaningful.

Children want to learn new things. Their entire reality consists of constant discoveries in a world that’s new to them. Books, letters, and words play an essential role in that process. In fact, children are fascinated by them even before they develop reading comprehension skills.

You’ve probably seen young children holding books, “reading” stories even though they don’t know how to do it yet. Thus, they interpret the images they see and imagine fantastic worlds, limited only by their creative abilities.

Nevertheless, children do learn to read during the early stages of development. They learn to interpret the symbols we call letters and string them together to form meaningful words.

Once children learn to read, they start working on a new skill that many parents don’t necessarily take into account: reading comprehension. What role does the family play during this stage? A very important one, as it turns out.

A dad reading with his kids to improve reading comprehension.

Children’s reading comprehension and family

Research from authors such as Stevenson and Rasinski shows that parental involvement in improving literacy while children are starting to learn to read is important and should be supported.

Rasinski and Stevenson studied the effects of parental involvement in a reading fluency development project. The study involved the families of first-grade students.

During the study, researchers analyzed the progress of children with different reading skill levels. The children were randomly distributed into experimental and control groups.

The parents of children in the control groups did assignments with their children. They received instructions from schools to read to their children but not systematically. They were supposed to do it only occasionally, among the other tasks they were assigned.

The parents in the experimental groups received training to help their children improve their reading fluency. They used materials specifically recommended by tutors and spent 15 minutes a day on the project.

The importance of family

According to this study, the students who received specific help from their parents during the experiment progressed more than the children in the control groups.

The children in the experimental groups showed greater word-recognition ability. Also, they were able to do word-recognition tasks more quickly than children in the control groups. The experimental groups also improved their reading comprehension and fluency.

In addition, it’s important to highlight that the children who participated in the research study were very enthusiastic about the experience, which was highly enjoyable for them. In fact, they considered that they had learned to read better, now have an easier time understanding difficult words, and learned with every new reading.

A mom on the couch reading with her daughter.

How the family can get involved

Now that you know how useful parental and family involvement is for a child’s reading comprehension, how can you put these ideas into action? Here’s one proposal:

  • The tutor should come up with avenues of communication with the family. They can use informative reports, personal contact, and periodic meetings to help encourage reading activities at home.
  • Parents don’t usually have a lot of free time. Thus, these literacy activities should only take about 10 to 15 minutes a day. However, parents should try to do them consistently, every day if possible.
  • Parents aren’t professional educators, so they should receive training and watch demonstrations from professionals. That way, they’ll be equipped to do these reading comprehension programs.
  • Parents should receive specific materials for reading fluency activities. For example, poems, books of songs, riddles, etc. The material should be appropriate for the child and get progressively more difficult.
  • The best kinds of shared reading activities are simple, pleasant, and short. That will help spark the child’s interest.
  • Teachers should come up with evaluation forms so parents and other educators can see the child’s progress.

Now you know how important family is for children’s reading comprehension. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of parents and guardians to try their best to provide optimal learning conditions for their children.

Rasinski, T., Stevenson, B. (2005). The Effects of Fast Start Reading: A Fluency-BasedHome Involvement Reading Program, On the Reading Achievement of Beginning Readers. Kent State University.