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Supporting a Dyslexic Child at Home

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Do you consider your child to be intelligent and articulate, yet they struggle with reading, writing and spelling at school? Have they been called lazy or careless by the teacher? Do they have low self-esteem? If this describes your child, it may be worth having him/her tested for dyslexia. Although these tests aren’t definitive, they should give an indication as to whether the child is processing information as they should.

Typical Symptoms

Dyslexic children often mention the following when reading: blurriness, jumbling and moving letters, shimmering, letters appearing reversed or squashed together. They may also suffer from headaches and their eyes hurting. Not all dyslexics suffer from all these symptoms, which is why it’s sometimes difficult to diagnose.

Self-esteem

Your child may refer to themselves as stupid or believe they will never amount to anything. While you may not be able to convince them these things are untrue, they might be interested to learn that the following people didn’t let dyslexia stop them from succeeding: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Agatha Christie, Richard Branson, Steve Redgrave, John Lennon, Kiera Knightley and the first US president, George Washington. So your child is in very good company. They are every bit as intelligent and capable as the non-dyslexic child; it’s just that their brains process information slightly differently.

At Home

Two essential tools are required to support your child’s learning at home: patience and optimism. Be positive about any progression, however small, and accept that you’re in for the long haul. You don’t need any special skills and the class teacher should be willing to advise on focus areas. Help them practise sight words, phonic knowledge (sounding out words) and sentence structure. Inexpensive resources such as word games and a dry wipe board are very useful, ensuring that the latter is pastel coloured, such as those found here. Listening to them read is essential but it doesn’t have to be from a reading scheme. They could, for instance, read pages that interest them on the internet (with your guidance). Magazines, comics, instruction manuals or recipes are fine too, provided they include text. A child is far more likely to read something that holds their interest.

Liaise with the School

Unfortunately, all schools are not equal when it comes to special educational needs (SEN). Speak to the head and find out about their SEN policy. As it’s usual for the teaching assistants to give extra support in schools, find out how much time will be allotted to your child and will it be one-to-one or group work? If the classes are bulging at the seams, there is a danger of the dyslexic pupil flying under the radar. Don’t be afraid to ask for your child to be tested. If the school refuses, this means there is insufficient evidence to support further action, which you may have to accept. Another option would be to get them tested independently.

The important thing with any child in school, whether dyslexic or not, is to take an interest in their school work, support them where needed and give tons of encouragement.

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