It is evident that being a sufferer of dyslexia can mean taking a huge amount of hard work, particularly when it comes to revising and doing homework. It is so important for parents of dyslexic children to be well prepared to help with their child’s learning needs and communicate their apprehensions with their teachers. Whilst no two individuals struggle with the same set of symptoms, most children with dyslexia must work harder than their peers to develop literacy skills. There are plenty of methods that every parent can put in place to support their child’s learning, below are some tips and strategies to do so.
Using time wisely
Time is a major factor of work, knowing how to wield in your child’s schedule means allocating extra hours for tasks that may take longer to complete with dyslexia. Children don’t all develop time management skills at the same rate, some may take longer to develop these skills, like planning ahead and staying on top of things.
- Extra-time: Making sure your child is given extra-time for exams, homework deadlines and whilst working at home is critical to ensure they can demonstrate their actual knowledge of a subject. This extra time will allow them to write more, as well as going over their answers to see if there is anything which needs to be edited or added to. A simple checking process for your child to learn is the C.O.P.S method for proofreading =
C: Capitals O: Overall appearance P: Punctuation S: Spelling.
- Breaking up work: Dividing up projects into smaller pieces will feel far less intimidating for your child. For example, if they are due to hand in a 1000-word essay in a weeks’ time, plan what little tasks they can do to work towards this I.e. first day: deciding on the essay topic and writing the introduction. Help support them whilst they get used to this structure, they will eventually feel comfortable and know which steps are necessary to take themselves when they are next assigned a piece of work or an essay.
- Preview reading: When receiving a new piece of work, read though it with your child to identify words they do not know the meaning of, or cannot pronounce. Talking through this material together will ensure they have a complete understanding of what is being asked of them to do and seem far less intimidating when beginning the task. You have a tremendous influence on your child’s attitude towards reading and writing. Remind them that everybody is good at something and, even though they may find reading and writing difficult, they have other strengths. Building their self-esteem plays a huge part in improving their confidence towards their schoolwork.
- Establishing a routine: A written or visual plan in a prominent place is ideal. It should include an agreed plan as to what happens after arrival home from school. Keep in mind that they may be very tired after school, as they have had to work harder than their peers so they probably will need a break before starting homework.
Embracing simple tools
Breaking down content into smaller portions is a great way to tackle everything on an entire topic or book chapter, additionally making studying far less overwhelming for your child.
- Flash Cards: Organising revision material in the form of flashcards is a great way for them to categorise their work and systematically remember the information.
- Colour coding & Highlighting: Highlighters and colour pencils are invaluable tools to improve note taking whilst reading. They can do this by photocopying relevant chapters of their work and then highlighting key points. This can help them to note down what is essential.
- Charts & Diagrams: If you believe your child is more of a visual learner, help them make the most of their imagination and creative strengths by developing diagrams, charts and mind-maps to connect information.
- Breaking it down: Taking their time to read each paragraph, followed by note taking of what they have read in their own words is an effective method for them to grasp and absorb information.
- Creating a presentation: Creating a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation of the key information your child will need for their test or topic they are learning at school, as if they are digital flashcards. Additionally, if the computer device has the computerized voice feature that can read slides back to you, that would also be very beneficial.
- Typing notes instead of writing: Typing notes on the computer may be more efficient and easier for your child to read rather than messy handwriting. Using a computer also allows them to focus on the content rather than their handwriting, so they can get their thoughts on the first draft, and when making edits they won’t need to write the entire essay again.
- Using dictation programs & apps: There are several dictation apps easily downloadable to those with smartphones or tablets, as well as many dictation devices in the market. After your child has completed their piece of work, whether it is a paragraph or an essay, they should read it aloud and record themselves. Listening to what they have written whilst they read it over will help them spot errors and identify edits they would like to make.
- Listening to assigned books in audio form: Whilst your child reads along with the hard copy, having the audio version playing as well can be very helpful. As a bonus, they will feel much better prepared if they are called to read out loud in class the next day.
Poor performance eventually undermines your child’s confidence and trust in his or her own skills and abilities, yet it is so vital to help your child believe in themselves. Dyslexia can teach them to organise their time and work efficiently, and that work ethic will help you no matter what you decide to do in life. Continuously remind them just because something takes them longer to do, doesn’t mean you can’t do it well and that taking longer means you will remember it better. Whilst it is difficult that they may feel different, remind them they’re learning the skills to overcome dyslexia, that they are smart and have the abilities no one else does!