5 Essential Skills to Teach For Comprehension Success

5 Essential Skills to Teach For Comprehension Success blog post title image

We all know comprehension is the goal of reading. As a teacher, it’s important to help young learners understand and retain information they read. To achieve this, practicing five essential comprehension skills are key. With engaging exercises and activities, you can equip your students with the tools they need to become successful readers and learners.

Comprehension Starts with Knowing the Author’s Purpose

The author’s purpose is the main reason for why a text was written. Identifying the author’s purpose can help readers better understand what they are reading. It helps them connect with the main ideas and recognize examples of author’s craft.

To help students recognize an author’s purpose, present them with stories, articles, parts of the newspaper, poetry, and informational texts. Discuss what message the author may be trying to convey. Encourage students to make predictions with a variety of texts while considering who wrote the text and why they chose that particular topic.

Below, you’ll find my author’s purpose paper bag book. Within the project, I have included pages for modeling, practice activities, and independent application. You can grab a free sample activity by joining my email list using the form below.

Identifying Text Structure, another key comprehension skill

Another essential comprehension skill is to identify the structure of a text. Teaching students how to recognize patterns like cause/effect and compare/contrast can help them understand texts more effectively, as they can anticipate what type of information will be presented next. You might try having your students identify text structures with cut-up pieces of texts. By reassembly them into their original forms, kids remember these concepts better and see how the author organizes the information. You’ll find additional teaching ideas and ways to practice using my text structures project below.

Making Connections inspires comprehension

Help your students to make connections between the concepts and ideas they come across in their reading. Emphasize how events, characters, settings and feelings are related to each other. To do this, you can ask your students to identify cause-and-effect relationships and explain how one event influences another. Have them draw conclusions from texts by looking for patterns or similarities among facts or events in the story. Lead them to observe similarities between stories and people in different contexts. Through making these connections, your students will be better able to comprehend what is happening in their reading materials.

Teach students to Synthesize Information

Synthesizing information is the ability to combine knowledge from multiple sources or pieces of text. It includes summarizing, making inferences and deriving conclusions. As students read, they need to draw conclusions and synthesize the ideas presented together to create a big picture understanding. Teach your students this skill by having them return to source material and emphasizing how events relate to each other. Encourage your students to make connections between topics in their own texts too.

Making Comparisons across texts

Have your students consider why the author chose to tell their story in a certain manner. What implications are revealed from the form of the text? Is it a poem, novel or essay? Examine the use of time and sequence and how this influenced the author’s work. With the help of graphical organizers, have them draw comparisons between characters and stories to see similarities or differences in a larger context. Connecting and comparing multiple pieces of literature can help deepen students’ understanding. This post includes ideas for making comparisons as well as a few free printables.

What skills do you see as essential for improving comprehension? Share your favorite activities in the comments below.


Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.