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 6 (age 10–11)

Comprehension is the ability to read a text and understand its meaning. While children are taught comprehension strategies, the best way is to develop language comprehension is to through talking, listening, and reading as often and as widely as possible. In Year 6, your child will continue to develop as a reader, becoming increasingly independent as they prepare for secondary school.

Read on to discover the National Curriculum expectations for comprehension in Year 6, and to find out how you can support your child at home.

What your child will learn

In Year 6 (age 10–11), your child will build on what they learned in Year 5 by working towards these expectations:

Read and talk about a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, and non-fiction

During Year 6, your child will read and listen to a wide range of books, poems, and stories at school. This will help them develop a feel for the types of things that they like to read. By reading widely, they will get to know many different types of language and writing.

Your child will also become more familiar with using reference books such as dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Recommend books to friends

A key part of becoming a reader is being able to talk about the books you like and why you enjoyed them. In Year 6, your child will be encouraged to do this by making recommendations to their friends.

Talk about and compare themes in books

By Year 6, your child will have read a large and growing number of books. This means that they can begin to compare the books they read, thinking about similarities and differences.

At school, they will learn to think about themes in different books and make links between them. For example, they could compare two main characters, or talk about how two different authors approach a similar scene in different ways.

Learn a range of poetry by heart and read poems and playscripts aloud

Your child will study poems or play scripts in Year 6, and will have the chance to perform them to an audience. This helps them learn to read aloud with expression and shows the teacher that they understand the text.

Your child will also be expected to read aloud from their reading books, and will also learn some poems by heart so they can recite them aloud.

Check that the text makes sense to them

As an independent reader in Year 6, your child will be encouraged to check whether what they are reading makes sense to them. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s important they don’t just read on to try and finish the book.

They will be taught to re-read and to think about or look up the meaning of a word. Your child will also be encouraged to use the other words and phrases to work out the meaning.

Read between the lines and use evidence from the text to justify thinking

Sometimes the information in a text is very clear (for example, ‘It was raining’) and easy to understood. However, texts are often a bit more complicated and may require inference to properly understand.

Inference is where some information is left for the reader to read between the lines. They need to make sense of details that are not stated clearly. For example:

Instead of ‘It was raining’, the text might say, ‘Ally shook the water from her umbrella and carefully balanced her soaking coat on the radiator’.

Being able to make inferences is a key skill for comprehension so this is a focus for reading in Year 6.

Predict what might happen next

In Year 6, your child will continue to make predictions about the texts they read. This could mean predicting what might happen next in the story or what a character might say or do. These predictions are a good way to check understanding.

Identify how the language, structure, and presentation of a text adds to its meaning

As children reach the end of primary school, the focus on reading moves towards not just being able to read, but also to thinking about the choices a writer has made.

Your child will read a wide range of texts and will discuss how the words a writer has chosen, the way the text is organised, and how the words are presented all create a particular effect. This might be how an author makes a particular scene funny or how another author shares information clearly.

Talk about how authors use language

‘Figurative language’ describes figures of speech such as metaphors and similes, that go beyond the literal meanings of words. For example:

‘The hills were smothered in a cloak of white’ rather than ‘the hills were covered in snow’.

Figurative language might add some sparkle to a piece of writing or help the reader to think differently about an idea. In Year 6, your child will learn about figurative language and the effect it can have on a reader.

Tell the difference between fact and opinion

In Year 6, your child will read a range of types of non-fiction writing, including books, letters, adverts, newspapers, and so on. They will learn to find and use the information in non-fiction writing.

As part of this, they will learn that some information is the writer’s opinion, while other elements are facts, and they will be able to tell the difference between the two.

Talk about books, building on their own ideas and other people’s

Reading lessons in Year 6 will give your child the chance to talk about the books that they read. They will show their understanding and learn that different people hold different opinions about the things that they read.

Talk about what they have read in presentations and debates

As well as discussing what they read in groups and as a class, children in Year 6 will learn to present information in presentations and debates. They might be encouraged to use notes to help them.

How to help at home

Even though your child will probably be confident reading more challenging books, it’s still useful to read aloud to them. If they would rather read to themselves, here are some ideas of how to get them on board:

1. Let your child pick the book

It might be something that everyone is reading at school, an old favourite you’re read a hundred times before, or something you would never pick yourself: another book about ponies or the biography of a footballer you’ve never heard of. Giving your child free choice of the book is a great way of building excitement about being read to, helping to form the habit of reading aloud.

2. Try a bit of compromise

Perhaps you read a page to them and then they read a page to you. Or you read one chapter and then they read the next few to themselves, before you read another.

3. Listen to audiobooks

Listening to an audiobook together can work well (even better when it is played from the hallowed tablet or smart phone). This could be curled up at bedtime, but it could also be in the car or at home while you’re getting ready for school. Take a look at the free audiobooks on our eBook library for inspiration.

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

4. Listen to your child read

Listening to your child read is still an enjoyable activity when they’re in Year 6. Choose a time when they will be up for it and find somewhere comfortable. By listening to them read, you can help them with unfamiliar words and talk together to make sure that they understand the book.

5. Value your child’s choices

It’s really important to value your child’s choices, even when a book looks too easy or too difficult. Children can often read books that initially appear to be too difficult (especially if it is a topic that interests them). That said, being able to read the words doesn’t necessarily mean that your child can always fully understand the text, so it is worth checking their understanding every now and again.

There is nothing wrong with re-reading favourites or choosing a book to read that might be aimed at younger readers. Reading these books helps to build fluency and can be good fun, which is important at this age.

Copyright Oxford University Press 2020