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Dyslexia-a guide for parents
A good rule of thumb, if a child is unable to read five or more words on a page of a book it is fair to assume that it is too difficult for them. There is nothing more disheartening than giving a child a book to read that they struggle with. They will spend all their time trying to read the words and not enjoying the actual story. The following are some suggestions that parents may find useful to try to encourage their child to read:
1.Reading to a child – this improves listening skills, broadens interest in books and improves vocabulary. A lack of independent reading skills robs many dyslexic children of the pleasure of reading stories.
2.Shared reading - the adult reads and the child joins in - is very useful. Encourage your child to:
join in by discussing the book’s content and pictures with them,
asking them to describe what is happening or might happen
running your finger along the line of print as you read,
suggest your child joins in by reading some words and asking your child to retell the story in his own words.
3. Supported reading - this approach encourages the child to read to the adult and can gauge whether the child is able to read most of a book (nine out of every ten words). Encourage this by looking at the books and pictures together, asking the child to suggest what the story is about, selecting two or three words or main characters to talk about, allow a child time to work out words (it is recommended that you give the word after five seconds), helping with accuracy. Encourage your child to check guesswork by cross checking letters in a word.
4.Over learning - although this may seem tedious to you it is actually good to read a child’s favourite book over and over again. This helps to build familiarity and if a child has a poor short-term memory it reinforces his understanding of the story.
5.Silent Reading - children need the opportunity to read alone. Young children need time to browse and more skillful readers need independence and time to develop fluency. Encourage discussion about books the child has read, not only what the story was about, but also whether it was a good read and why.
6. Fun! - reading should be a pleasure. If you seem like you are enjoying it your child will pick up on this. Make sure you are both comfortable and relaxed, make reading part of your children’s daily routine, use different voices for the characters and use role play – you be one character and encourage your child to be another
7. Use a colour overlay - this sometimes helps. Your child should have one they use at school and they are welcome to take it home but should try and remember to bring it back into school.
8. Car journeys – a great way to teach literacy skills, especially when stuck in traffic. Encourage your child to read and recognize road signs, shop signs and words on advertisements. This can help reinforce the message that reading is an essential skill for life and not just a classroom event.
The use of colour - encourage your child to highlight the difficult part of a word to help them try to remember how to spell it. Green is supposed to be the best colour to use but whatever works best for your child. Try coloured paper instead of white where possible as some dyslexics find it easier on the eye. Black print on white paper may cause visual distortion.
2. Phonological skills - Always sound out words. When trying to read and spell a new word, tap on the table to count the number of syllables, then break each syllable down to sound out the word where possible e.g. hel/i/cop/ter. Your child will be so proud when they can spell a longer word and will want to keep on trying with other words.
3. Use a cursive (joined up) style of writing - Motor memory is our most powerful way of enhancing memory and when the hand learns a pattern of movement it will help your child remember how to spell the word and improve their handwriting at the same time.
4. A tool kit – should include a set of highlighters, spare pencils, pencil sharpener, soft rubber, blank word cards to act as memory jogger for difficult words.
5. Use a try page – children should use a scrap of paper or whiteboard to try and spell the words first before writing in neat. This will encourage them to ‘have a go’ without the fear of getting it wrong or making their work messy.
6. Read what they have written – children should always read aloud what they have written to make sure it makes sense and they have not missed any words out. Let them edit their own work with a coloured pen where possible so they learn to recognise their mistakes and correct them.
7. Break a task down into manageable steps – little and often is best!
8. Boost self esteem – recognise their strengths, teach them to think so they can learn to be independent, help them to recognise dyslexia is not their fault and that they can achieve success and you can help them.
Hope you find this information useful and please share with us any other helpful tips and advice so we can pass onto other parents.
Most of this information can be found in the book
‘How to identify and support children with Dyslexia’ by Chris Neanon.
There are many dyslexia websites available where more information can be found.