Of all the learning problems affecting children today, many think that the most troublesome are the reading, writing and related problems that we call dyslexia. Children with this learning disability are often very bright and good with words. But, they have reading problems that can’t be overcome simply by hard work.
There are many ways parents can help their children cope with this learning disability. The first step is to recognize the signs of dyslexia and understand how it affects your child. The second step is to work with your child’s school. When parents and schools work together, they can help all children succeed.
What Is Dyslexia?
The term “dyslexia” refers to an overwhelming difficulty in learning to read, write and use language.
Possible Signs of Dyslexia
- The child is late in learning the letters of the alphabet. The child may have trouble learning the letter names or sounds.
- The child is confused about how letters are written. She continues to reverse or invert letters long after other children have stopped.
- The child has great difficulty blending letter sounds.
- The child has difficulty copying information. For example, she makes mistakes copying from the chalkboard to paper.
- One or both parents have this learning disability. There is growing evidence that dyslexia runs in families.
10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Dyslexic Children
Children with dyslexia can be successful in the regular classroom. They need extra help from teachers and parents. Here are ways you can help your child at home:
- When your child is learning letters, “write” them on pieces of colored paper with white glue. When the glue dries, let him trace over the raised letter with his finger. You can also make letters she can feel out of sandpaper, felt or velvet.
- Play picture-and-word matching games. Cut out pictures of familiar objects from magazines. Paste them on cards. Write the words that match these pictures on other cards. Have your child match them.
- Have your child act out a scene from a book. This will help him remember what he’s read.
- Have your child be the teacher. You be the student. By teaching you, he’ll be learning the material.
- Find books with large print. They make it easier for your child to read. Look for these books at your school or public library.
- Encourage your child to write in cursive style (with letters connected). It is more difficult to reverse letters when writing in cursive.
- Choose books with a predictable word pattern for younger readers. A repeated word pattern will encourage your child’s reading fluency.
- Have your child listen to books on tape while reading the book.
- Teach your child to use a typewriter or computer keyboard. It is often easier for dyslexic children to type their papers. Computers also allow them to use spell-check. This is a real lifesaver for children with dyslexia.
- Encourage a “can-do” attitude in your child. Dyslexia means your child will learn differently. It doesn’t mean that he cannot learn. Look for stories about successful people with dyslexia. Let your child know you love him—and that you know he can learn.
Dyslexia Requires a Team Effort
Parent involvement is critically important for children with dyslexia. It doesn’t work for a dyslexic child to simply try harder. Neither the school nor parents alone can overcome the obstacles dyslexia presents to a child’s education. But, working together in a team effort, we can do a lot.
The earlier we can identify dyslexia, the better. It is not a temporary problem. It does not go away as children grow up. The earlier the child, the parents and the school can become a team, the better. If you think your child may have dyslexia, or if you know that she does, today is the day we should start working together.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Child is Dyslexic?
If your child has several of these signs, he may be dyslexic. If you suspect that this is the case, talk with your child’s teacher. Ask that your child be evaluated by a qualified specialist.
If your child does have dyslexia, he will qualify for extra help in school. Your school will work with you to develop an individualized education plan (known as an IEP) for your child. It is important that you take part in the meeting where the IEP is discussed. This is your chance to build a strong partnership with the school.
Copyright © Parent Institute