In the second stage of reading instruction, students can sound out words and are beginning to process their meanings. For beginning students, there are the most simple texts, like “Hop on Pop” and the Bob Books. Then, students progress to the I Can Read books and other easy readers, and on into more challenging books as they become comfortable.
Just because students can say the words, however, doesn’t always mean they understand what they are saying. To refine reading comprehension in regular classrooms we teach what is called “the strategies,” including summarizing, finding the main idea, describing character, setting, and plot, and a number of other ways of breaking down, describing and understanding a text.
These “strategies” have been summarized in the Common Core, although I don’t, personally, think referring to the Common Core is necessary for a child-centered education (in fact, one might say, inasmuch as you are focusing on objectives, you are not focusing on the child).
Instead, I would recommend listening to your child read and asking questions about the text, sentence by sentence, to make sure he or she understands. If the child makes a miscue (reads a word wrong) gently ask “does that make sense? Let’s read it again.” But don’t aim for catching errors. Aim for expanding understanding. Try, more than anything else, to get the child to make connections to their own ideas, life, and imagination, for it is here that the flight of the mind in deep reading occurs, and I have come to believe, it is where the joy is. If you facilitate that joy, the child will begin to understand why people read when they don’t have to.
To that end, questions like “is this a good story? “Why did they do that?” “What are they thinking?” “Have you ever felt that way?” and a million other such simple questions on the student’s level are best for growing reading ability.