Timelines to Increase Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is a skill that we know is important but sometimes struggle to help our children with.  In our series on increasing reading comprehension, we have discussed taking notes and using drawings to help our children remember and understand what they are reading.  Another great way to increase reading comprehension is by using a timeline.

What is a Timeline?

A timeline is simply a list of events in the order that they happen.  Many times we think of timelines as being only relevant in history class.  However, timelines can be just as useful during reading.  Timelines can help your child keep the events of a story in order in their own mind. It is also a useful tool to look at when trying to understand why things happened in a story.

How to Set Up a Timeline

The easiest way to set up a timeline for a simple story is to draw a line on a long piece of paper.  As events happen in the story, your child will write the event above the line with a general time or setting note under the event.  This gives your child a running record of the events in the story to look back at.  Some stories are not written exactly in the order they happen though.  Especially in novels for older children, their can sometimes be flashbacks, memories, or events happening out of order in the story.  For novels like this, it is easier to use a timeline that can be rearranged as your child comes across new events.  I would suggest using small sticky notes to write each event on the timeline.  Then if a flashback or out of order event needs to be included further back in the timeline, it is easy to move the other sticky notes down to make room for the new event where it belongs.  This will make for much less erasing and rewriting and a neater timeline.

Using a timeline can help your child learn to remember story events, but it is also a useful tool for understanding cause and effect in a story.  Looking back at past events can help your child understand why other events took place. In our last post of our increasing reading comprehension series, we will talk about how reading out loud can also improve reading comprehension.

Have your ever used a timeline to help your child keep track of the events in a story?

Photo by:  Neil Cummings

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