How To Help A Child With Dyslexia At Home
Can your child with dyslexia improve his or her reading skills?
Yes! In fact, it is easier, and more fun, than you think. You can improve your child’s reading readiness in ways that feel like play.
Let’s start with a better understanding of reading readiness. It isn’t about how fast they can finish a timed read-aloud passage, comprehension quiz, nor how well they pronounce the words. Reading readiness occurs after foundational developmental abilities are in place.
Students who are ready to learn know how to take in and make sense of the information around them. They know how to recognize patterns. They can consider different explanations before selecting the most likely. This type of problem solving must occur when performing arithmetic, reading, and writing. However, these skills develop outside the classroom first.
You can’t always accomplish this merely with more reading practice. How can you help your child with dyslexia improve their reading skills? The answer may surprise you.
Reading readiness only occurs when all the developmental building blocks fall into place as the child matures. If your child has some developmental gaps, don’t despair. These gaps can be filled in with activities that feel like play.
Here are two easy ways to use play to improve your child’s reading readiness.
Try One More Time
The first area to focus on is improving your child’s ability to practice “try one more time” strategies.
Start by stretching your child’s attention span by having them “hang in there” a little longer. Play with that toy a little longer, work on solving that difficult puzzle just a moment longer, read a little longer, and encourage them to “stick with” that chore you assigned them, just a little longer.
Make this goal of trying one more time, something that you can role model. Without talking about it, start role modeling this behavior when you’re playing together.
If you’re playing a game with toy cars, stretch out the game a little longer by adding a new and creative dimension. Perhaps enjoy having the cars drive to a pretend parking lot at the pretend zoo.
If your child is reading a story, have him or her look at the pictures just a little longer. Ask your child to describe all the things that are red in the picture or all the things that make a sound.
Invent a new way of playing with the backyard bowling set and teach your child to stretch their imagination.
Teaching your child to stretch their imagination to “play longer” will help improve attention span for academic activities.
Look for opportunities for your child to “think a little more” or “try one more time”. Encourage and support their effort. Help your child to enjoy feeling their mind successfully wrap around a problem.
Teaching your child to “hang in there”, problem solve and execute one more attempt. These can all help keep the mind engaged in a productive manner. That may be trying one more time to find the lost sock or problem-solve how to get that bicycle wheel back onto the bike frame. It could be figuring out the best solution to the riddle of the day or finishing their chore independently.
We want children to enjoy using their minds and develop “try one more time…” strategies. They will need them at school as well as for the rest of their lives.
Improve Spatial Awareness
The second area to practice is your child’s sense of understanding space. Knowing how objects are positioned in space informs the next developmental stage of recognizing space in and around letters and words.
Being ready to read, write, and perform arithmetic requires good spatial awareness. If spatial awareness isn’t innate and automatic for the child, academics will be challenging.
This means that children must understand three dimensional space. They have to be able to navigate their physical body in, over, under, through, around, and to explore all physical spatial relationships.
Navigating space seems simple to us because with just a quick glance, we can easily see how to navigate the obstacles (in space) to the restroom in a busy and unfamiliar restaurant. The visual sense of space develops after experiencing it physically. We may not remember learning this skill, but learn it we surely did.
Our children need to learn this skill too. They must learn the words to describe physical space and be able to separate themselves from that space.
The ability to separate themselves then allows them to learn to observe the objects, people, places, and things that are in the space around them. This in turn develops into the ability to visually judge space without having to physically move around the room, such as the restaurant example provided earlier.
Practicing and developing spatial awareness can be accomplished very well through games. Here are some examples of games that children love to play that also develop spatial awareness:
- Simon Says
- Hide and Seek
- Red Light, Green Light
- Chutes and Ladders (board game)
- Obstacle courses
- Treasure hunts
Your child will never know that you are really working on developing their reading readiness.
The child with dyslexia can have difficulty sequencing, reasoning, and independently problem solving. The child with dyslexia literally needs physical movement (often more beneficial than added homework) in order to facilitate effective thinking.
So, think about play time and think about movement fun when you think about your child who just seems to print or read letters all turned around.
Dyslexia can be helped early on and throughout a student’s life. Help your child apply these principles. Keep stress levels low and, when playing, try not to focus on competition or the perfect outcome.
Remember, you are teaching your child how to learn. Learning feels fun. It’s something humans are driven to do biologically.
Enjoy your time with your child.
Read more on this topic through my blogs on this website and by purchasing my book (CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE), Unique Reader Solutions. An entire chapter is dedicated to the individual with reading difficulties. Enjoy! This book was written for you!