It seems obvious to state that all children are different and develop at different rates, but it’s something easily forgotten by parents worrying about their child’s progress, especially with reading.
If the child’s reading skills are not developing fast enough for the demands and expectations of a rigid curriculum then their general progress in school can be inhibited, as the mainstream learning approach is very much based on reading and writing. This is often what happens to dyslexics.
In a home school setting, where parents can allow a child to progress at a more individual rate alongside other necessary learning skills, parents use more practical approaches less heavily based on reading. And most find that their children successfully develop the necessary literacy skills at a later date and go on to do well.
However, this flexible approach isn’t possible in classrooms and not everyone can home educate. So some children inevitably flounder, neglected in a busy classroom.
One teacher recently observed that many dyslexic children, especially those less severely dyslexic and consequently with needs less visible, are being overlooked and let down, since there isn’t the funding to provide the extra time and attention they need.
So how can parents help support their dyslexic child?
- Establish first of all whether the child is dyslexic or just a naturally late reader, bearing in mind that some children don’t read fluently till 7 or 8 and catch up very easily. You can read about the signs to look out for here.
- When they’re reading a dyslexic child needs more time to think and decipher words. They need small chunks of reading and visual clues. Multisensory prompts which involve touch, sound and hearing also can help trigger their memory of words as they easily forget them from one day to the next. Our patience and understanding is vital.
- Hand writing for dyslexics is usually painful. Their writing is often illegible and laborious. But they cannot help it and again need our patience and understanding. Writing on computer is far easier for most and this should be negotiated with school, along with spelling checkers and other aids like different coloured screens.
- Too much intense and consistent reading practice can put kids off and make them dread reading; to be avoided at all costs. Dyslexics have to work far harder at their reading and writing and need more breaks.
- Keep reading pleasurable, letting the children choose the books. Reading the books they enjoy over and over is also valuable. And frequently reading to the child, however old, is equally important especially when they can follow the print too.
- Some people have found that different coloured backgrounds to print is helpful, some find glasses designed for dyslexics works for them, others adopt special reading programmes.
Dyslexic children’s needs are varied and different strategies work for different children so parents need to be imaginative, resourceful and patient.
There are more details and further help for dyslexia on these websites: