October 7, 2019 by Kim Wyrley-Birch
This post is the fourth and final part in the ‘Reading with Dyslexia’ series. Part Four focuses on COMPREHENSION.
READING WITH DYSLEXIA
Comprehension is your ability to read a sentence or a passage and understand its content and meaning. For example, if your child reads a story, could they tell you about it, could they tell you how a character feels, and could they predict what might happen next?
Some dyslexic children struggle with comprehension. They use so much energy decoding words in front of them that they don’t have the headspace to comprehend what they’ve read. A child with dyslexia can also have slow information, slow phonological (sound) or slow visual processing abilities. This means they can work out what a sentence or a passage means, and it just takes them longer to do it.
MASTERING STEP FOUR: COMPREHENSION
Comprehension is a vital skill to learn, not only for reading books but for all other subjects at school. If your child can grasp understanding what they’ve read (a story, maths or science problem), they’ll find it easier to predict what might come next, and in turn, help them decode the words.
Comprehension will also stand your child in good stead for their future. It’s an ability that’ll be required in many areas of adulthood, from reading instructions in public places to understanding emails at work.
If you think your child struggles with comprehension, here are some tips to help.
WHAT TO DO:
1. Ask your child questions during and after a story
When it comes to reading with your child, incorporate comprehension discussions. For example, ask questions such as:
When you get to the end of the book, ask your child to describe parts of the story they liked too. Get them to explain their reasons why.
2. Underline keywords as your child reads the story
If your child finds comprehension difficult, grab a pencil and tell them to underline keywords as they read each sentence. This technique helps speed up their visual processing ability (the ability to say what they see quickly) when you come to discuss the book.
3. Close your eyes and imagine metaphoric sentences
If there’s a metaphor in a sentence, for example, “Her tears flowed like a river down her cheeks”, ask your child to shut their eyes and imagine it. While their eyes are closed, get them to describe what they see and what the character feels. Encouraging your child to visualise what they’re reading will help them process text more easily.
4. Draw a mind map after reading a story
After you’ve read a story (or at a time that’s more appropriate) sit down with your child and get them to draw a mind map of what they’ve just read. Get them to draw quick pictures (doodles), in the order they appear in the book, to explain the story and the characters.
5. Read poems too
Poems can be a lot easier to comprehend as they’re very descriptive and often illustrated with colourful pictures. If your child’s finding comprehension with their usual story hard, switch to reading children’s poems a few times a week instead. They’ll still be practising their reading skills and will no doubt enjoy the change.
GAMES TO HELP YOUR CHILD MASTER COMPREHENSION
Here are some games you can play with your child to help with their comprehension skills:
1. Draw characters from a book you’re reading
One for budding artists – drawing characters from a story you’re reading. Get out some paper and colourful pens or paints. Ask your child to draw a picture of one of the characters from their book. See if they can then draw items around the character that explains what happens in the story. Once they’ve completed their creation, ask them to describe it. Drawing the scene works well too. It’ll get your child talking about the story and practising their comprehension skills.
2. ‘Roll and Retell’ dice game
This version of the popular game, I found on a fantastic educational resources blog called. It’s a great idea for incorporating comprehension questions into an entertaining game. You can easily make your Roll and Retell by getting a piece of paper and drawing six dice down the left-hand side, numbering them from 1 to 6. Write a different comprehension question next to each of the numbers. Then, when you’re reading with your child, get them to roll the dice and answer the questions that correlate with the numbers it lands on. It’ll undoubtedly make reading time more exciting!
Image from Fun in First blog
3. Once Upon A Time card game
Once Upon a Time is a great storytelling card game that supports comprehension skills. One player is the Storyteller and begins telling a story using their cards, guiding the plot towards their Ending Card. The other players use their cards to interrupt and become the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to use all of their cards. Your child will no doubt love making up their own stories. The game’s perfectly sized for taking on holiday and long journeys too!
I hope my ‘Reading with Dyslexia’ series has helped your child with their reading. Please get in touch if you’d like further support or tips.