Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills high school students can develop, and it's also one of their most common weaknesses. It can't be improved overnight – it requires discipline, and often that discipline starts with the parents.
If you manage to improve your child's reading fluency and the amount of information that is gleaned from reading a book, he or she will be equipped with one of the most important skills for taking standardized tests, getting into college, and being proficient in a new career field. On the flip side, a struggling teen reader has poor chances of achieving high SAT skills and will quickly become discouraged.
A parent only has so much influence on how well their student absorbs reading material – but it's important to make the most of the opportunities you have to help.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Help your student find out what he or she likes to read – whether it's sports coverage articles, fantasy novels, or biographies – and have him or her read on a regular basis. When a student reads material that is on par with their reading level, they can fully understand the majority of the words and learn a few new ones. If he or she tries to read material that is too difficult for your child, they won't understand a lot of it and it will be a lost cause. Reading material that introduces a few new words here and there is the best way to build up to a higher level and improve your vocabulary.
Get interested in what your student is reading. Have him or her explain it to you. Paraphrasing content forces a reader to truly think about the meaning of what was read, and not simply focus on the fact that they completed the task. Ask questions about why a character did a certain thing or what they think is going to happen next.
The time will come when the student will be assigned material that he or she finds difficult, so preparedness is important. Rereading portions of the text and breaking it down sentence-by-sentence are the most common and useful strategies. Using context clues to figure out the meaning of foreign words is also a very useful skill. In essence, teach your reader to break passages into smaller, more manageable chunks to decode meaning.
Sometimes, you as a parent are simply not equipped to teach your child new skills. As long as you are making the effort to foster improvement, you are doing your job. Hiring a professional reading tutor has been proven to be successful in improving grades and teaching new, useful skills.