Parents can make a big difference in improving the reading skills of a child diagnosed with dyslexia. Because you are most aware of your child's strengths and weaknesses, you can focus on learning strategies that will work best for him or her. With young children, playing alphabet games and reading rhyming books, for example, while offering support and encouragement, might greatly improve reading skills. Staying involved with your child's education throughout the school years will be a key part of your child's success.
You can be a positive force in your child's education. Following is a list of ways parents can help their young children with dyslexia develop reading skills and feel good about themselves.
- Read to your child. Find time to read to your child every day. Point to the words as you read. Draw attention to words that you run across in daily life, such as traffic signs, billboards, notices, and labels.
- Be a good reading role model. Show your child how important reading is to daily life. Make books, magazines, and other reading materials available for your child to explore and enjoy independently.
- Focus on the sounds within words (phonemes). Play rhyming games, sing songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, play word games, sound out letters, and point out similarities in words.
- Work on spelling. Point out new words, play spelling games, and encourage your child to write.
- Help with time and planning. Hang up simple charts, clocks, and calendars, so your child can visualize time and plan for the future.
- Share in the joy of reading. Find books that your child can read but that you will also enjoy. Sit together, take turns reading, and encourage discussion. Revisiting words that cause trouble for your child and rereading stories are powerful tools to reinforce learning.
- Read, read, read. Read to and with your child. This can help make a positive difference in learning basic reading skills.
Children who have dyslexia may need emotional support for the many challenges they face. Following is a list of ways parents can offer encouragement.
- Learn about dyslexia. Information about dyslexia can help you better understand and assist your child.
- Teach through your child's areas of strength. For example, if your child understands more when listening, let him or her learn new information by listening to an audiobook or watching a DVD. If possible, follow up with the same story in written form.
- Respect and challenge your child's natural intelligence. Most children with dyslexia have average or above-average intelligence that can be challenged by parents who encourage their intellectual growth. Be honest with your child about his or her disability. Explain it in understandable and age-appropriate examples and terms while offering unconditional love and support.
- Teach your child to persevere. You can model, through good-humored acceptance of your own mistakes, that mistakes can help you find solutions.
- Recognize your child's limitations. There may be some things your child will always struggle with. Help your child understand that this doesn't mean he or she is a failure.
- Don't become a homework tyrant. Expecting perfection and squabbling with your child over homework will create an unhealthy relationship and emphasize your child's failures.