It is estimated that dyslexia affects about a tenth of the population in the UK and is the most common of all specific learning difficulties. Dyslexia is often characterised as a condition which causes difficulties in your child being able to read fluently or spell accurately; but dyslexia affects more than just literacy skills, it also impacts on the way that your child processes, stores and retrieves information. This means that your child may have problems with their memory, their perceptions of time, organising their day and following directions.
There are some simple steps that all parents can take to support their dyslexic child:
BE AMBITIOUS ... Provide your child with books that will challenge and stretch their reading, with new and interesting stories, vocabulary and structure ... but make sure that you support them in this. Help them to access these books by listening to them reading out loud; by joining in, with enthusiasm and lots of encouragement; by supporting their reading using resources such as talking books. Be ambitious and "catch them being good", reinforcing them with praise, each moment they achieve and improve.
BE ORGANISED ... Support your child in developing patterns and a routine for their school and home life. Help them draft a weekly timetable and publish it somewhere central in the house (the fridge ... or the mirror!) Help your child to organise their school work by getting them to write a list of the activities that need to be done, encouraging them to work independently and checking off against the list at the end of each day. Do not give your child long and complex lists or verbal instructions, which are too difficult too from them to remember.
BE SUPPORTIVE ... When doing their homework, ask your child to write down the question, as well as the answer, in full sentences. By writing the question down, your child will be prompted to identify and use words from the text, with the correct spelling; and will also help them to better understand the correct sentence structure.
Understanding dyslexia and looking for ways to help your child is the important first step. There is a lot that you can do... and you do not need to everything all at once. Try one strategy at a time so you can see if it makes a difference.
Above all, be positive and encouraging. Your love and support makes the big difference in your child’s life.