Have you ever watched a movie where you just can’t follow the plot? No matter how hard you try to focus and pay attention, very little about the movie is making sense. This is what reading is like for a child who struggles with reading comprehension. If your child continually expresses a dislike for reading and you have noticed that he has difficulty reading or gets easily frustrated, even with simple words, then you may want to consider having him evaluated for dyslexia or another reading issue. While many children with dyslexia can follow along when someone else reads, they are generally unable to comprehend its meaning, especially when trying to do it on their own. Why? Because of neurological patterns in the brain, these children are not able to absorb large amounts of information at one time. Words and sentences often get mixed up, making the entire reading process (even when following along) more difficult to understand. It’s almost as if there are two sets of wires, both fully charged, but they don’t quite connect all the time. The power is there, but an arc needs to be forged to make the connection. One way to help make that connection is by using something called mind maps.
A mind map is a graphical (or pictorial) way to represent thoughts and ideas and organize ideas. Research shows that visual aids like pictures, illustrations, diagrams, etc. work better with dyslexic learners. These children are better able to absorb the information presented when it’s done using a more visually appealing method. Mind mapping is a great visual tool for kids that struggle with reading comprehension. Mind maps are less dense than text, thus creating a more effective learning tool for dyslexic students. With the help of a mind map, a child can take in the information as it is received and break it down into manageable chunks, making it much easier to understand and remember.
When children use mind maps for reading comprehension, their thoughts are better organized. These visual aids illustrate the information and pertinent relationships. For instance, the mind map can be used to focus on the main idea of a story. Additional branches can then be used to fill in important information and other details that relate to the main idea. This, in essence, helps the child see how the story fits together, making the overall meaning easier to comprehend. These same types of learning tools can be implemented into writing lessons as well. Mind maps can be used at the student’s own pace, allowing them to add to it later if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Mind mapping tools can be used online or with easy-to-use software programs on your computer. They can be found in the form of worksheets or even created by you or your child–whatever is easiest for your situation. Dyslexia doesn’t just go away and should not be ignored. In the same respect, a student with a reading disability doesn’t need to feel discouraged. There are numerous tools available, such as mind maps, that can be used at home for children who struggle with reading comprehension.