How to Help Your Child with Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, poor decoding, and poor spelling abilities. You may notice your child struggles with reading and spelling at home or at school, and despite opportunities to learn and practice these skills, your child struggles with reading. Struggling with dyslexia can lead your child to feel frustrated, defeated, and behind their peers. They try their hardest, but they can’t seem to master the concepts that their peers are learning in school. Without support, children can becomes less and less interested in reading and they may start to avoid reading activities in anticipation of the frustration they will feel. This can lead to a pattern of reading avoidance, oppositional behavior when asked to read, and non-participation in school activities. However, these consequences can be avoided with proper identification and intervention.
What can you do to help your child? As a parent, you play an incredible role in helping your child succeed in academics. You can take the following steps to help your child:
- First, early identification is key to quicker improvements in reading. Children who are diagnosed with dyslexia (and provided appropriate interventions) regularly improve their reading skills well enough to be able to succeed in reading throughout their education. Children who do not receive help until the later grades may not have as much success as those who receive intervention at an early age. Educational or neuropsychological testing through your child’s school, or through a community-based psychologist, can identify if your child has a learning disorder.
- Read out loud to your child. You can read to your child when they are as young as six months old. You can listen to recorded books and read stories together with your child.
- Work with your child’s school. Talk to your child’s teacher, or the school’s vice-president, about how the school can help your child succeed. The school may recommend a response to intervention program that involves stages of reading interventions in the classroom, or you and the school may decide to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. Be proactive and frequently check-in with your child’s teacher to stay aware of your child’s progress with various reading interventions. If your child is not improving, be active in suggesting to the school that they try new or more involved interventions.
- Encourage your child to read. To improve reading, your child must practice reading. In addition, targeted practice is better than practice without a focus. In accordance with the interventions implemented at school, you can have your child focus on various aspects of reading such as word pronunciation, sight word reading, and sentence comprehension. Also, have them read something fun, or a topic that they enjoy.
- Encourage yourself to read! You are the best example for your child. If your child sees you reading, your child is more likely to want to reach. Try reading a book of your choice during your child’s reading time.
Be as supportive as you can, and make sure your child knows how much you love them as you help them with this challenge. If you tackle this issue together with your child and your child’s school, the likelihood of a positive outcome becomes greater and greater!