For this reason, outside help from a specialist tutor can always be helpful.
Susan T is a specialist teacher in Dyslexia (SpLD) with a post Graduate Diploma in SEN (Dyslexia)
Here she outlines what exactly Dyslexia is and what as a parent you can do best equip your child to be independent, successful learners.
Dyslexia Resources: a Guide for Parents
First of all, what is dyslexia?
There are many misunderstandings about dyslexia, which can be confusing especially if you are a parent of a child who has been assessed as having dyslexia. Even the term varies! You may hear ‘dyslexia’ , ‘specific learning difficulty’, ‘learning disability’, ‘learning difficulty’ or ‘learning difference’.
The word 'dyslexia' actually comes from the Greek and means 'difficulty with words', it affects around 10% of the population and is a life long condition. Most importantly, dyslexia does not affect intelligence.
Dyslexia is actually really about how information is processed. That is, how information is taken in, understood, remembered, organized and then how this knowledge is demonstrated.
Children with dyslexia can have difficulties at all of these stages and generally, these difficulties can be seen in relation to print.
For example, a child may be baffling to teachers – they appear bright, articulate and knowledgeable yet cannot produce written evidence to match these skills.
Dyslexia can and often does, however, extend beyond the printed word into, for example, difficulties with organization, general ‘clumsiness’, the concept of time, numeracy/ mathematics and sustaining attention.
So, how can I support my child?
Firstly, some initial considerations. Your child will have good days and bad days – be relaxed about this! Progress may not be linear – it is important that the trajectory is upward over time, but there will be highs and lows along the way.
Consistency with school is recommended therefore finding the right school for your child is crucial.
Strategies to help with Reading
Practice in reading is important. The reading material can be anything that is going to interest your child. There are many books now available that are ‘high-interest’ that is, the content will be suitable for a 9 year old although the reading age may be pitched at 6 years.
Newspapers and magazines are also very useful sources of reading material. ‘First News for Schools’ is a newspaper aimed at children and contains a range of literacy resources at different levels.
Remember to always praise your child! - It’s important that your child does not become averse to reading because of the demands it places on him/her – ensure the emphasis is on what your child reads correctly rather than incorrectly.
You can support your child’s reading development in many ways – here are some ideas:
- Pre-reading - talk!
Use your child’s prior knowledge and experience and discuss what they already know about the text before reading. Here are some suggested questions for pre-reading activities:
Who are the main characters?
How do you know they are the main characters?
What do you know about the characters?
Do you know anyone like these characters?
How do you think the book/passage will end?
Have you read another book or seen a film with a similar story to this book?
Looking at the front cover, what do you think the book/article is about?
What do you think will happen in the book/article
Research suggests that pre-reading discussion is one of the best predictors of a successful outcome in a reading activity.
2. During reading
Thus is a well-known reading strategy but an over-reliance on this can be demoralizing for dyslexic children as comprehension and reading fluency can become compromised.
- Use any pictures available.
- Refer your child to the same word that he/she read on a previous page.
- Use your child’s prior knowledge and experience. Meaning is held in memories, and in the language children use to express what they have experienced. Reading, therefore, should ‘make sense’ within the context of what they already know or understand, about their world. Children draw upon meaning when reading.
- Use syntactic clues (the order of words in a sentence). Language follows certain rules - ‘runs dog the fast’ - does not make sense.
- Use semantic clues. Good readers develop an expectation that reading about, for example, cats will contact words such as tail, purr, whiskers etc
- Paired reading – basically, reading together! Let your child take the lead when confident and step in when he/she comes across an unfamiliar word that is proving difficult to figure out. Don’t forget, it isn’t wrong to read the word for your child.
Strategies to improve spelling
Your child will have target words and spelling patterns to practice. Here are some ways you can help at home:
Create your own word searches using your child’s target words. Find here a great example by Puzzlemaker
2. Media search
Your child has 10 minutes to look for his/her target words and highlight them in a newspaper or magazine.
3. Colourful words
Ask your child to identify the tricky part of the word and then write it in bold eg
s a i l
b e f o r e
t h e y
s h i r t
Jumble up the letters and ask your child to spell the word (you can use Scrabble letters)
Write the word leaving out the tricky part for your child to complete eg b l a _ _ (black)
Ask your child to sound the letters in the word for you to write. Has he/she made the correct sound-letter correspondence?
7. Design a word
Write a word in bubble writing and colour in each letter with a different pattern.
Eg big elephants can’t always use small elevators (because)
9.Air spelling/Salt box spelling
This is a game to play with your child. Ask your child to use his/her index finger to write the word in the air slowly, saying each letter and ‘seeing’ each letter. When the word is finished, ask him/her to ‘underline’ it and say it again.
Pour salt into a shallow box/tray (about 3cm deep) and then ask your child to practice writing his/her spellings in it with his/her index finger.
If you would like additional help with dyslexia resources Susan T is available as a tutor on Tutorfair.
Alternatively find a wide range of fantastic Dyslexia Tutors on Tutorfair.
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