What Is Dyslexia?
You may notice that your child interchanges letters and words whenever asked to spell or write a sentence. Perhaps your child has poor handwriting and drawing abilities and/or exhibits difficulty in repeating and following instructions.
You may worry because he or she forgets what was just read or explained. Above all, your child seems to be getting left behind in terms of reading ability. These are just some of the symptoms that a child with dyslexia may exhibit.
More often than not, children who are not reading at their grade level and are not at par with their age group regarding this skill may be misinterpreted as simply dumb, slow, or uninterested in learning. Some parents do not realize that these kids may have dyslexia, a term that refers to poor reading due to information processing difficulties.
As a parent, you want to help your child cope with this condition. If you are wondering how to help your child with dyslexia, try these effective methods.
Tip 1: Use Dry Erase Boards
One problem to address with dyslexic children is their ability to spell. Even if they cannot help seeing the letters reversed and writing in this manner, through constant practice and the development of discipline, they can correct this.
Many of these children experience great stress when they misspell a word and they have to erase repeatedly or use a different paper. Such anxiety puts a greater strain on their capacity to focus and learn. It’s helpful to have them use dry erase boards, which they can easily swipe to erase what they have previously written. Encouraging them to use colored markers can add an interesting, fun element that alleviates any feelings of pressure and tension.
You may want to color-code the trouble letters in words to emphasis the ones your child keeps getting wrong. For example, if he or she keeps spelling the word “bought” as b-o-h-t, highlight the “ou” blend when you write the correct spelling. Build on this by providing other examples for this blend such as “four” and “thought”. Ask your child to use the same colors you used when you spelled the word.
Tip 2: Make a Word Wall
A “word wall” is basically just a surface (usually a sheet of paper or poster board) on which you write or display words that your child needs to learn and remember. Many teachers and parents often add other elements to these walls to make them more interactive and fun for kids. While word walls are usually employed in the classroom, they can be very helpful when used at home.
How to help your child with dyslexia with a word wall? Set it up at home in a place where your child can access it regularly such as in the bedroom. Make it colorful and interesting to grab their attention because visual learning strategies make it easier for these children to remember and retain information.
You may want to base the words for this word wall on your child’s interests or allow him or her to help you decorate it. Focus on no more than two to three words at a time and repeat them daily until your child retains the knowledge.
Turn this into an arts and crafts activity and reinforce the learning by cutting out letters from old magazines and drawing pictures beside the words to illustrate their meaning.
From time to time, you may want to combine games with the word wall study time. For instance, you can hide some letters would make up the words and engage your child in a scavenger hunt.
Tip 3: Encourage Reading Aloud
When children read aloud, this activates the part of the brain that recalls speech muscle movements. As a result, it helps these kids remember better and retain what they are reading longer. It also helps them become more familiar with how the letters and words appear in print.
Set a reading routine with your child. For example, read storybooks before bedtime or perhaps after dinnertime. Choose a time in which the child will be the most receptive.
When you do this activity, do not overwhelm children by expecting them to read an entire book or story aloud. Start by letting them read the lines of one character first and gradually working up to more independent reading as their skills increase. Later on, you can have fun with reading aloud by creating voices for the different characters or producing your own radio play by recording your voices.
Tip 4: Make Spelling Fun
Spelling does not have to be limited to a pen and paper exercise that gets quite boring over time nor does it have to appear like school work. Vary the materials used in daily spelling drills so you can better sustain the child’s interest and maximize the learning. For instance, invite the child to use their finger to spell words in rice or sand spread on trays or cookie sheets. They can use a paintbrush, a water gun, or even beads to spell words on various media or even on the sidewalk or pavement outdoors.
Another way to make spelling a fun-filled activity is to bake cookies together. Create the batter and then form it into words before putting the cookies into the oven. In this way, you can also bond with your child and encourage the feeling that you are in this feat together.
It is important to keep in mind that different situations can become teachable moments. While you are eating in a restaurant, for instance, you can let your child list words of each kind of food that he or she eats.
Tip 5: Use Analogies to Explain Dyslexia
One way to make efforts more effective is to involve your child directly. Help your child to learn about dyslexia and what can be done about it. How best to help your child with dyslexia and explain the condition? Use analogies.
For instance, ask your child how he or she feels when it is rainy. Point out that rain is viewed differently by people. Some have a positive outlook and may say that rain can help plants grow and provide a cooler environment. Others see it negatively and may claim that rain can cause floods and keep children from playing outside.
In the same way, dyslexia can be perceived in both ways. Encourage your child to see this condition as a way for him or her to concentrate better and become more eager to learn. Help your child see that this is also a way for the two of you to keep solving problems together and at the same time become closer to each other.
“About Dyslexia & Reading Problems”, Child Development Institute
Understanding Dyslexia website created by Communication and Learning Skills Centre, U.K.