Once your child has mastered the shapes of letters and how to decipher them into sounds, the next big challenge is reading comprehension. How much can they really understand of what they read? More importantly, in a world constantly filled with video games, how can you get your child interested in reading enough to actually work through the challenge?

We’ve found a fun little site that provides a full selection of flash-based games young children can play to help them lean numbers, sounds, and how to put words together. The game selection is highly varied, helping children develop their skills gradually by asking children to match letters, identify beginning sounds and end sounds, working on phonemes (letter combinations that make a specific sound) and playing around with tricky words.

If you find your child has no problem forming the words on the page and reading them out loud, yet still struggles to understand what the page says, she is having a problem with reading comprehension.

Comprehension is actually a very complex issues scientists are still working to understand, but you can still help your child by understanding there are two basic levels of understanding. If just one of them is off, your child could have problems with reading. Figuring out where the main issue is can help you pinpoint activities that will provide your child the greatest benefit.

The first level of comprehension is at the sentence level. This is when your brain processes the letters and sounds, noticing word structure and sentence formation. Clearly, if your brain is busy processing the basic information such as how to get those letters and words to stay in order, you’re not going to have much processing power left to associate those sounds and sentences with greater meaning. Children having trouble getting the sounds and sentence structure down should be assessed for dyslexia.

The other level of comprehension is the narrative level. This is where the brain makes associations between the words and order in which they were read and other experiences that the individual has experienced.

For example, when you read about a juicy red apple, your brain immediately associates these words with the sight, smell, feel, and taste of an apple you enjoyed at some point in your past. It may also jump to associations you have with the fall season, when apples are ripe, and warm memories of family togetherness. You might associate it with Biblical stories and understand the apple to be a warning sign of danger to come, giving you some foreshadowing into the story.

A child who can read the letters and words in the book and tell you how a sentence is supposed to be ordered but cannot tell you what the story was about is struggling to make these kinds of associations.

The good news is, the games we found that can help you assess whether your child is able to read letters and words correctly also has some great games to help develop this deeper level of comprehension. Even better, the advertisements that appear on the main pages are designed to be kid-safe.

The site is called Top Marks and the link is right here. Enjoy!

Reading games anyone?