We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Page

Comprehension in Year 1 (age 5–6)

Comprehension is the ability to read a text and understand its meaning. In Year 1, your child will read and listen to lots of stories, and will be encouraged to think and talk about them.

Read on to discover the National Curriculum expectations for comprehension in Year 1, and to find out how you can support your child at home.

What your child will learn

Take a look at the National Curriculum expectations for comprehension in Year 1 (age 5–6):

Listen to and talk about a range of stories and texts

Children in Year 1 can often understand more complicated texts than those that they can actually read themselves. Your child will explore stories and texts by taking part in activities such as:

  • linking what they read or hear read to their own experiences 
  • recognising and joining in with predictable phrases (‘Run, run as fast as you can…’)
  • learning about rhymes and poems, and learning some by heart (such as nursery rhymes) 
  • discussing the meaning of words.

Learn well-known stories, fairy stories, and traditional tales

Fairy stories and traditional tales are often used with children in Year 1 to help build comprehension.

For many children, these stories are already familiar and they feature characters that children know from other books and television. Often, fairy stories and traditional stories are simple and easy to follow.

Understand the books they read and listen to

In Year 1, your child will develop their comprehension by:

  • drawing on what they already know or using information provided by their teacher 
  • checking that they understand stories and texts as they read and correcting mistakes in their reading 
  • talking about events in stories and why stories have the titles they do 
  • making connections based on what is said and done in a story
  • predicting what might happen next in a story based on what has been read so far 
  • taking part in a discussion about what is read to them, taking turns and listening to others 
  • explaining their understanding of what is read to them.

How to help at home

There are lots of ways you can help your Year 1 child with comprehension. Here are our top ideas:

1. Read to your child

Reading to your child will help them to enjoy reading, to build their comprehension, and to become a confident reader themselves.

Children benefit from listening to books that they can’t read themselves yet, as they will see and hear adventurous language and ideas that they might not have encountered in their independent reading. Non-fiction books about the things they’re interested in and longer stories are both great for expanding your child’s reading horizons.

2. Choose a wide range of books

A mix of fiction and non-fiction, real stories and magical stories, familiar characters and new experiences help to broaden your child’s interests and keep story time fresh. Sometimes you might choose the book, sometimes they might choose the book, and sometimes you might read both!

You’ll find plenty of recommended book lists on the Oxford Owl blog.

Our free eBook library has lots of books perfect for younger readers.

3. Don’t be afraid to re-read

Listening to the same book more than once is really important for children. As well as giving your child the opportunity to hear the same words and phrases enough times to remember them, re-reading will help them to think again about the ideas in the book, perhaps noticing something they missed the first time.

4. All join in

Interactive reading, with your child joining in with phrases, sound effects, and actions can help story time to become a shared experience. It’s lots of fun, and talking, acting, and re-telling will all help your child to develop their reading.

5. Talk about books, stories, words and pictures

Asking your child questions can help them to think about what they’re reading. Try to ask open questions that begin with ‘how’ and ‘why’. If you can, try to get your child to go back to the text and pictures to tell you how they know the answer.

Talking about what is happening in a picture, what the characters might be thinking, or what might happen next all help to develop early reading skills.

Copyright Oxford University Press 2020