There are many instructional methods designed to improve comprehension. One of those methods is the SQ4R method. The SQ4R method stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Relate, and Review.
Survey: Before reading anything with your student, survey what you will be reading together. Help your student skim over titles, headings, captions, graphs, and introductory and concluding paragraphs. Make sure as they survey, they are focusing on the main points and making inferences about what they will be reading.
Question: As you survey the reading, ask questions. Turn the titles, headings, pictures, or graphs into questions. It may also be helpful to write the questions out so that you and your student may refer to them as you read.
Read: Next, as your student reads, have them answer the questions that you both asked beforehand. Make sure they know it is okay to reduce their reading speed for difficult passages or to even stop and reread any parts that they didn’t fully understand. Emphasize any words that have been underlined, italicized, or bolded.
Recite: After they have read the passage or chapter, have them summarize what they have just read. It may be helpful to have them stop occasionally while they are reading and paraphrase what they read rather than having them do it after reading the entire passage. Another way to help your student comprehend their reading is to have them recite what they read by taking notes. Encourage your student to look for answers as they read and then to recite or write the answers before they move on.
Relate: As you read with your student, help them relate it to their own life. As with anything, it is easier to remember when the topic is something that is meaningful personally. For example, if you are reading The Wizard of Oz you could have your student think about a crazy dream they have had or have them think about a question they would ask the wizard. When your student is able to relate and link things they already know with things they are reading, the will better understand what they read.
Review: Once your student is done reading, have them skim back over their notes or what they read, check their memory to see what they remember from the story. Going over the questions your student went over before reading can be a great way for your student to review the story by comparing what they predicted would happen with what actually happened. Reviewing will not only help them with their comprehension but will also help them develop reviewing skills with any part of study.
There are many ways you can use this method in your tutor sessions. One thing you might do is pick a book to read each session for 15-30 minutes and use this method every time. As you focus on this method, your student will get in a routine and follow these steps naturally without the need to go through them specifically one by one. As they see their comprehension improve, they will then use these tools in other books, articles, or materials they read.
More information on this particular SQ4R method can be found at: http://www.wvup.edu/academics/learning_center/sq4r_reading_method.htm