What can I do to help my dyslexic child?
What can I do to help my child at home?
Probably the most useful support that parents can give their dyslexic child is to help to boost their self-esteem. It is easy for children with dyslexia to become disheartened with learning because the reading, writing and memory elements, that are so crucial in school, are difficult for them. A dyslexic child has to work twice as hard at school as other children and is likely to be very tired after a day at school.
Focusing on the things your child is good at is very important. Encouraging their interest in sport or art or making things and celebrating their successes will help them to keep feeling good about themselves.
Children who are struggling to learn to read will have more motivation to overcome their difficulties if they have a love of books and stories, so reading to your child is a good strategy to encourage a love of books. When you read to them, they can relax and get a much better sense of what a book is about than when they are struggling through the words themselves. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hear your child read with their reading book, but that you should have times (bedtime is often ideal) when you just read to them and they can listen (this also helps to develop their listening skills). Talking with them about the story you have read also helps them to develop an understanding of the structure and pattern of stories. Understanding story structure and pattern is going to help them in their reading because they will be able to predict what might happen next and what words might be used, which will help them to read the actual words.
When you listen to them reading, try to avoid putting too much pressure on them. Encourage them to use a range of cues, such as looking at the picture or thinking what would make sense, rather than just looking at the letters in words. Make comments about the story or information to help them to understand what they are reading, as they often lose a sense of the meaning because they have to struggle so hard to 'decode' (sound out) the words. If they tire quickly, try reading a page each – that will also mean that you can model putting expression into the reading. Decide which words it is worth helping them to sound out and which ones it would be just better to tell them quickly so that they can get on with the rest of the reading (not all words can be sounded out in English!).
Playing with sounds
Dyslexic children usually struggle to hear and identify individual sounds in words, so playing games that help them to hear sounds can help their reading and spelling.
These could include rhyming games (there are lots of rhyming pairs games on the market), singing rhyming songs, clapping syllables (eg. clapping everyone's name in the family), I-Spy, making up alliterative (same beginning sound) names for people (eg. Rowdy Reece) or try giving your child instructions with key words split into sounds ("Go and get your c-oa-t and b-oo-t-s.")
The British Dyslexia Association has a useful section of information for parents, including frequently asked questions, homework tips, getting help and resources (http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/parent).
Dyslexia Action is another charity that has a good website with lots of information (http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/).
The Leicestershire Dyslexia Association (https://ldadyslexia.org.uk) has lots of information about dyslexia and runs workshops for children and talks and events for parents.