Why kids have trouble understanding or remembering what they read

By Ginny Osewalt

The act of reading is complex. Kids need a bunch of skills to both understand and remember what they’ve read. Here are some reasons they might have a hard time with reading comprehension.

Reading speed: Do they read slowly? The longer it takes to get through a sentence or paragraph, the harder it can be to “hold on to” and think about the meaning of what they’ve read.

Vocabulary: Do they understand the meaning of most of the words in the text? Think of each paragraph as a house and each word as a wooden board. It’s hard for the house to feel sturdy if there are big holes in the floors or walls.

Interest: Are they bored by the topic? It’s hard to pay attention if you’re not interested in what you’re reading. When kids are engaged, they may work harder to get meaning from what they read.

Stress and anxiety: Are they stressed out? When kids are worried, it can be harder to concentrate and absorb the material.

Any of the above can affect how well kids understand what they read. But there are ways to work around these challenges.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.