You might realize by now that a child with dyslexia experiences challenges that are beyond reading and school. Dyslexia affects all aspects of their life, including confidence and self-worth.
Because dyslexia affects how the mind processes language both verbal and written, it will take a dyslexic child longer to complete and understand tasks (Read more: Common Signs of Dyslexia).
Creating a patient and supportive environment at home is key to helping them gain a love of reading that is fun and pressure-free.
Here are 5 simple ways you can support a child with dyslexia at home:
1. READ TOGETHER, A LOT!
Make it a daily habit to read together with your child. Do it often and consistently. Ask them questions about what you are reading to them or if they are reading, discuss the book as you go along.
When you read to or with your child, take breaks often to ask comprehension questions. Try not to get frustrated if it seems like they are unable to answer correctly, ask the questions in a conversational way and maintain a low pressure environment.
However, some students with dyslexia are able to comprehend text very well and will have more difficulty with decoding the words.
2. PLAY FUN GAMES WITH SIGHT WORDS
Sight words are a collection of words that a child should learn to recognize and read without sounding them out. Recognizing and being able to read sight words is key to being a fluent reader (Read more: 5 Strategies for Improving Fluency)
Kids with dyslexia can have an even tougher time learning sight words because some don’t follow standard phonics rules so they are not decodable. Sight Word recognition can also be difficult for those with dyslexia because they may struggle to match an image with the word and store it in their short term and long term memory. Those with dyslexia, especially benefit from using visuals so when a word like "a" or "the" doesn't have a specific image to represent it, a child can struggle to recall the word.
For kids with dyslexia, it is important to keep a few things in mind when working on sight words.
Help them Notice the Details
Children with dyslexia find details challenging especially with new words or words that don't follow the rules. Reading the word aloud to your child, talking about the letters in the word, spotting the vowels and discussing the placement of the letters are all great ways to help your child remember the word.
Create a Memory Aid
Using a memory aids or mnemonics to remember how to spell a sight word can really help! First, find a phrase that can help them associate with the sight word. For example, use "My Aunt Nancy Yaps," for the sight word "many."
Engage the Senses
Engaging in non-verbal activities is the best way to help kids with dyslexia learn. Engaging the senses in multiple ways will help your child retain the information better!
You can engage your child’s sense of touch by having them trace their sight words with their finger. You can have them use a variety of materials including shaving cream, sand, rice, etc.
Kids can also practice writing their words by writing them in the air, signing them, or even saying them like a robot. Remember to encourage your child to say each letter of the word as they trace them and then to say the whole word at the end.
If you are looking for more ideas, hop on over to Pinterest and you’ll find so many games to play to make learning sight words fun. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or make it too serious. Remember, this likely isn’t easy for your child so you want to make it as enjoyable as possible at home.
3. DON’T COMPARE
Be very careful not to compare your child to siblings or friends who don’t suffer from dyslexia. Your dyslexic child will likely already suffer emotional stress and may exhibit low self esteem. They will likely be even more sensitive to criticism and comparison.
Instead, shower him/her with praise and support. Work to build up your child’s confidence and create a positive attitude towards learning.
4. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS
Listening to audiobooks with your child is an excellent idea to keep them engaged in literature. Audiobooks will expose your child to higher level text and expand their creativity without the stress of having to read every word themselves. You can encourage your child to follow along in the book as they listen to the audiobook and even track the words with your or his/her finger. Listening to audiobooks can even help enhance their comprehension of a text.
5. USE SPEECH TO TEXT INSTEAD OF HANDWRITING OR TYPING ON A COMPUTER
Writing things by hand can be extremely challenging for a child with dyslexia. Typing might be a bit more fun or manageable but can still pose a challenge as spelling is often difficult for children with dyslexia.
When your child is working at home, take the pressure off by allowing them to use tools like Speech to Text.
Programs like these will allow your child to clearly communicate their ideas without the stress of spelling each of the words correctly. This will also encourage them to use more advanced vocabulary that they otherwise might not use if they do not know how to spell the words.