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Helping Your Dyslexic Child Succeed

When teaching your children at home, you can encounter some tough moments. There will be times when your child refuses to do anything, when she gripes and complains, and worst of all, when she tries her best, but feels like a failure. When you are trying to educate your own kids, you are bound to be busy, stressed, and tired. If one of your children has dyslexia, you can multiply this by ten. Both you and she will encounter moments of intense frustration and feelings of hopelessness.

Children with dyslexia struggle to read, and because reading is a fundamental skill for learning, this can put the brakes on everything. If you have a child with dyslexia, you need to learn what that means and how to help her. With the right tools, both of you can succeed: her in reading, and you in teaching.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia, like any other learning disability, is a neurological disorder. It affects a wide variety of people and has nothing to do with intelligence. Dyslexics simply process and interpret information differently from people who do not have this disorder. The processing in the brain involved with dyslexia is specific to language. It occurs with differing severity and affects a person’s ability to read, write, spell, and communicate.

How Do You Know if Your Child is Dyslexic?

Only an education or neurological specialist can make an absolute diagnosis; however, there are many signs that you can look for. Watch for these in your children, especially those that struggle more with reading and writing. If you can catch the signs early, you can eliminate years of difficulties and low self-esteem. Here are some indicators of dyslexia:

  • Struggling with reading (more so than seems normal)
  • Having bad days for no reason you can see
  • Lacking interest in learning letters and numbers
  • Changing the order of letters in words
  • Changing phrases, resulting in meaningless statements
  • Having difficulty putting things into sequence
  • Confusing opposites, like up and down or left and right
  • Struggling to find words that rhyme

Seeing any of these signs in your child does not automatically mean that she is dyslexic, but it is a possibility. The only way to know for sure is to contact a consultant who does learning disability testing. You should be able to find one through your local public schools. Even if you never seek a diagnosis, you can use certain strategies to help your child become a more successful reader and, therefore learner.

How Can I Help my Child?

Having dyslexia or symptoms of the learning disorder is far from the end of the world. Many successful people have struggled with dyslexia and overcome it. With the right strategies and plenty of patience, you can help your child succeed as well.

  • Read to your dyslexic child often. Besides reading and writing, dyslexics often have trouble processing information as they hear it. This is why she may seem to not be following directions or paying attention to you. The more you read to her, the easier it will become for her to pay attention and understand verbal communication.
  • Make reading as fun as possible. Dyslexic children often dread the task of reading because it is such a struggle. Take as much of the chore out of it as possible. Let her pick the books she wants to read or the subject of the books. Make it a group activity with other children if she enjoys their company. Use the computer if she responds well to it. Sometimes being able to interact by using the mouse or scrolling through the text can make reading more fun. Make games out of spelling, reading, and writing.
  • Read the same book several times. Repetition helps dyslexics to learn to process information. Repeating the same words and sentences reinforces the correct order of letters within words and words within sentences.
  • Make reading manageable. Reading to a dyslexic is not only frustrating, it is also very overwhelming. When starting a new book or reading lesson, break it down into small tasks that seem more manageable. This can have a powerful psychological effect: working on one page is much easier to deal with than trying to read an entire book.
  • Make reading practice part of a routine. She will try to avoid it as much as possible, but when it becomes part of her daily routine, she will eventually accept reading as part of her day. Set aside a certain time of each day for reading and pick out one place that is for reading only. Make that place comfortable and inviting. It could be on the couch with blankets and stuffed animals or at her favorite desk.
  • Read together. Reading to your child is very important, but asking her to join in is very beneficial. When you are reading out loud, have her trace each word in the book with her finger as you say it. This encourages her to read each word one at a time. It also helps her to connect the way the word sounds with what it looks like.
  • Take breaks as necessary. Don’t let a reading lesson deteriorate into crying and fits (yours or your child’s). Know when it’s time for a break and come back to the task later.
  • Explain the disorder. It can be very helpful for your child to understand her disorder. Don’t keep her in the dark. That can only lead to frustration and bad feelings. Explain to her what dyslexia is and that it does not make her stupid. Whenever you tackle reading in a certain way or try a new strategy, tell her why you are doing it and how it may help her.
  • Make sure your child understands that dyslexia is not a barrier to success. Encourage her by telling her about all the successful people who overcame the disorder. They include: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Pierre Curie, Richard Branson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many, many more. When she gets down, encourage her to learn about more successful people with dyslexia.

Although dyslexia can make learning more difficult, it doesn’t make it impossible. With these strategies, you can help your child become a successful reader and learner.

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