Comprehension - The last (but definitely not least) skill from the “The Big Five”, our blog listing the top five skills needed to be a successful reader. Comprehension is an entity all its own, and we will merely get our hands wet in the ocean that is comprehension.
It is true, students must have the first 4 components: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and fluency mastered when they're reading on their own. If a student has the first 4 steps down then one might say the hard work is done, but that is far from the truth.
Often when students are read to they can comprehend quite well, but once the book is in their own hands, difficulty can arise. Understanding what one reads takes patience and effort. It is done prior to, during, and after one reads a text. Comprehension strategies need to be taught, practiced, and reinforced time and time again.
Depending on the type of text, one’s background knowledge of the material in the text, recognition of vocabulary used in the text, and level of difficulty of the text can all affect one’s comprehension. Without the ability to understand the text the text itself becomes just that, text, words, letters on a page.
When one truly comprehends and understands the text can they then grapple with, touch, feel, and learn from the text. Comprehension of text is hard, and schools are requiring students to understand difficult texts at an earlier age and at multi-faceted levels.
When helping students with comprehension we can remember these three phrases: Show me - Help me - Let me.