Improving Reading Retention Skills - Learning Lab

Improving Reading Retention Skills

Through Active Reading Strategies

Reading retention skills are crucial for students to develop early in their education years. And while many children learn to read with ease, teachers and parents might later find that the student doesn’t understand or retain the information they are reading.

In most cases, reading retention is not a sign of a learning difference, such as dyslexia, but instead a sign that the child needs to develop active reading skills to better remember what they just read.

Learn all about reading retention and the importance of developing English language arts skills to ensure children move onto the next grade level in the coming school year.

What Are Reading Retention Skills?

Reading retention is a term that describes how much of a text the reader can remember. It is different from reading comprehension, which focuses more on understanding and enjoying the text.

With reading retention, educators are gauging how much of the text the students remember later. It’s about recall and not just understanding.

How Students Can Engage in Active Reading Retention Strategies

Improving a student’s reading retention requires practice and active reading strategies. Parents and teachers who sit down with a child and read will provide more opportunities for the student to test their skills and learn strategies for improving retention. Here are some ways to help children use active reading strategies.

1. Discuss the Text

Take time to talk to your child about what they are reading. This activity will help your child read actively and remember the text. Plus, by doing this frequently, you’ll start to see what your child retains and does not retain. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to spend time with your child, which can increase your parent-child bond.

2. Use Repetition

Encourage your young reader to read the text more than once. Three or four times should help your student retain what they just read. The first time through, your student can skim the text to get an idea of what it’s about. The second time, they should read the text neutrally from start to finish. Finally, they should read the text while making notes to aid in retention. Anything they don’t understand, they can also circle or underline to clarify with their parents or teacher.

3. Have Your Student Take Notes

Taking notes or annotating information in the margins of the text can help your child recall what they read. Teachers often use this technique for high school and college-aged students when they struggle with retention. But the same benefits apply to younger children.

Handwriting notes provides greater retention than using digital methods, such as a computer or smartphone, for note taking. That’s because it uses a part of the brain that helps provide clarity and understanding.

4. Encourage Your Young Reader to Write a Reflection

Pausing to reflect on what you read can also aid in reading retention. Writing a reflection requires your child to organize their thoughts into a meaningful structure, which helps them make connections between the text and things that are familiar to them.

5. Read Slowly

Children who learn how to read with great ease can develop a fast reading pace that makes it more challenging for them to retain what they’ve read. Encourage your child to slow down and break the text into sections. Have them read one section, take notes, and reflect on it. Only after doing these activities should your child move on to the next section. This will help them organize the main ideas of each section of the text to improve recall.

6. Find the Small Wins

Children struggling with reading retention have likely grown to no longer enjoy reading. And practice is essential to growing a struggling reader’s skills. Helping children feel confident in what they are reading is an important first step in getting them back into enjoying reading, so that they can practice reading retention. Read together, where you read a paragraph or a chapter, and then your child reads the next paragraph or chapter. Pause frequently to talk about the text and engage fully with your child. Time spent together will help move your child away from frustration with reading to seeing it for the enjoyable activity it can be. If it’s easier to get started with shorter stories, go for it. The goal is to help your student shift their mindset about reading to provide the time and space for them to grow their skills.

What Are the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act?

Changes to learning during the COVID-19 pandemic challenged teachers and students throughout the world. In light of education adjustments over the last few years, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act, which outline steps for supporting reading skills before promoting students to fourth grade.

Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, third-grade students must be proficient in English language arts (ELA) before they can be promoted to fourth grade. Thankfully, there is still plenty of time left in the school year to help students struggling with reading retention skills.

Need Extra Reading Retention Support?

If your third grader is struggling with reading or any subject, we can help through tutoring. Please contact us to learn more about reading help we can provide. You can contact one of our two convenient locations in Brentwood or Nashville, or fill out the form below!


5500 Maryland Way, Suite 110

Brentwood, TN 37027



2416 21st Avenue South, Suite 100

Nashville, TN 37212