How to Improve 1st Grade Reading Skills

Make reading more enjoyable for first graders by improving decoding and comprehension.

Reading instruction becomes a large focus of the curriculum in first grade. During this grade, reading becomes more complex, as children start to read sentences and learn how to comprehend text. If you're a first grade teacher and your students are struggling with either decoding or comprehension, there are several tactics that you can employ to foster reading success, making them more fluent readers and turning reading into an activity that they will enjoy.

1 Decoding

2 Look for pictures

Have children look for pictures based on the letter sound they begin with. Ask them to look through magazines and cut out images that begin with specified letters. Have them create a collage for the specified letter. For instance, have them cut out pictures of items that begin with the letter M and glue them onto a piece of construction paper for an M collage.

3 Provide students

Provide students with dry-erase boards and dry-erase markers. Say a word and have them write the letter the word starts with or ends with on the dry-erase board.

4 Practice rimes or word families or with children

Practice rimes or word families with children. State a rime or word family — ake, for example — and have students create different words by adding different onsets, or beginning sounds. Knowing one rime can lead to the ability to read several different words.

5 Comprehension

6 Activate students' schema

Activate students' schema (prior knowledge) with pre-reading activities. Have them look through pictures in a text, or present them with items that relate to the text. Ask them to predict what the text will be about based on the pictures or items.

7 Ask questions during reading

Ask questions during reading. Ask students how they feel about what they are reading. Have them predict what they think will happen next. Ask if they can relate to what is happening in a story.

8 Have students

Have students recall the events in a text with post-reading activities. Let them draw pictures to illustrate their favorite part. Have them answer questions that pertain to the text. Write out sentences from different parts of a story and have children put them in sequential order.

Lily Mae began freelance writing in 2008. She is a certified elementary and literacy educator who has been working in education since 2003. Mae is also an avid gardener, decorator and craft maker. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and a Master of Science in literacy education from Long Island University.