NEURODIVERSITY

Our Guide: How to Teach a Dyslexic Child to Read

Contents

  1. Does dyslexia affect how to learn to read for kids?
  2. How can I help my dyslexic child learn to read? 
  3. Are there any books for kids with dyslexia?

 

Affecting up to one in 10 people in the UK, dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that influences a person’s ability to read, write and spell. As this can have an impact on a child’s educational experience, and therefore their school life, we want to offer a guide on how to teach your dyslexic child to read so that they can head to class with confidence! 💪child reading a book

Does dyslexia affect how to learn to read for kids?

 

Because dyslexia affects the way the brain processes language, reading for kids can be mildly or severely affected depending on the severity of their dyslexia. It’s typical to notice signs of reading difficulties around the ages of 5 or 6; we have listed some of these signs below:

  • Reading very slowly or making errors when reading aloud.
  • Confusion of letter order in words.
  • Phonics for dyslexia sufferers can be problematic. Common struggles include learning the names and sounds of letters, and general problems with phonological awareness (identifying rhyming words, alliteration, syllables and segmenting a sentence into words).
  • Difficulty understanding information that’s written down but having less trouble with information that’s communicated verbally. 
  • Experiencing visual disturbances. For example, a child may say that words are moving around on a page or look blurry. 
  • Pronouncing words aloud can also be difficult due to a child’s difficulty with decoding (speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words). 

While every child’s experience with dyslexia is different, these are just some of the signs to look out for. If you’re concerned about your child, we recommend you reach out to your child’s teacher or their school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) for guidance on treatment and support. 💛

 

How can I help my dyslexic child learn to read? 

 

If you’ve ever wondered how to teach a dyslexic child to read, you’re surely not alone because, as a parent, we know you want to support your child as much as possible while also making sure that they have the tools they need to navigate their studies. 

As we all know, reading is so important, not only for educational reasons but also to help development – plus, kids read for fun too! There are many ways in which you can help your child, so go on to discover some useful tips for teaching dyslexics. 📚

  • Read with your child

Dyslexia for kids can be, at times, upsetting and frustrating. If your child is struggling with reading, they probably get unmotivated very easily and are unable to concentrate for long. Because of this, they may show reluctance to read, whether for school or pleasure – this is where you come in. If you share reading time with your child and help them, they are more likely to stick to it and, hopefully, become more motivated and confident. This will require you to be patient as you will need to read at your child’s pace – don’t rush them. If they make a mistake, simply correct them and carry on reading. 

Let your child choose the book that you read together and try to aim for at least 10 minutes of reading time every day. At the end of your sessions, discuss the book together and ask your child what they think might happen next. The more they engage with the story, the more likely that they’ll look forward to reading time with you. 

  • Spot the mistakes

If there is a book that your child loves, re-write parts of it and add some mistakes. Mistakes can include doubling up on letters, such as ‘foodd’, using the wrong vowel in the middle of a word, like ‘deg’ (should be ‘dog’) or completely missing out letters – ‘geen’ instead of ‘green’. When you present the re-written text to your child, they will need to go through it and circle the mistakes. Once they’ve spotted the faults, ask them what the correct versions should be and praise them for every right answer. 

  • Tap out the syllables

Because dyslexics have trouble identifying syllables, longer words can pose problems, especially when it comes to pronunciation. To tackle this, tap out the syllables of words with your child. Show them first, and then have them tap out the syllables themselves, and if you can, teach them to tap a little harder on the stressed syllable of each word. For example, the word ‘computer’ has three syllables: com – pu – ter. The second syllable is said a little louder, for longer and our pitch slightly changes when we say it – this is the stressed syllable: com – PU – ter. So, for the ‘PU’ syllable, this is when your child should tap with a little extra force. 

  • Start a word journal

Learning new words can be hard for all children but for children with dyslexia, it can be a little more daunting so encourage your child to start a word journal. The words you learn together can be noted down, syllable by syllable, along with their meanings and you can practice them every so often until your child becomes more familiar. Not only will this make it easier for your child to identify and remember words, but you can also let them choose a journal of their own – everyone loves stationery! 🖋️

  • Make it multisensory

Engaging your child’s senses while helping them learn new words will make the experience more fun and meaningful. Encourage them to spell out words in the air with their fingers (sometimes called ‘air writing’ or ‘skywriting’) to reinforce the shape and sound of each letter. This will be especially helpful when it comes to letters that children with dyslexia mix up, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’. 👆

If you don’t mind getting messy, you can do a similar exercise with shaving cream but instead of writing words in the air, they can spell the letters out on a clear space or a large serving platter that’s covered in shaving cream. As they write each letter, urge your child to say it out aloud too. 

Different textures can be key in helping your child retain a touch memory of letters; have them cut out the alphabet in sandpaper, and then they will be able to trace each letter with their finger while also saying the sound of the letter out loud. Once the letters become more familiar, make a few more of each one and then ask your child to make words with their sandpaper creations. ✂️

  • Bring in technology

Reading for dyslexia doesn’t always have to mean just books – adding tech to reading sessions can increase engagement levels. E-readers such as Kindles are a super way to assist your child as they can adjust the font type and size on each page, thus making recognising letters and words far easier.

Whether it’s their phone or yours, it’s common knowledge that kids love smartphones. 📱 So use this to your advantage – and of course, theirs – by looking up some useful reading apps. There are many apps to be found that employ fun and engaging dyslexia teaching methods.

If you’re finding it hard to get your child to read, audiobooks are an alternative and offer different ways of dyslexia reading help. Not only can they improve your child’s concentration, but audiobooks may also keep them interested in stories and enhance their listening comprehension.

 

Are there any books for kids with dyslexia?

 

If you’re looking for some dyslexia reading help, simply search for ‘dyslexia books amazon’ or look to our recommended book list below for some handy teaching aids and inspiration.  

  • Learn to Read for Kids with Dyslexia: 101 Games and Activities to Teach Your Child to Read written by Hannah Braun M.Ed.

If your child is learning how to read with dyslexia, it can be really challenging. Luckily, this fun-filled book, packed with daily activities and colourful games, will make it easier on both of you. 

  • It's Called Dyslexia written by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

While this book isn’t exactly about how to teach a child with dyslexia, it’s still full of valuable lessons that will hopefully offer your child encouragement and support. Following the story of a young girl who mixes up her words and receives help from her teacher, not only will you find some parental advice in this text, but there are also some useful activities included too. 

  • My Name Is Brain Brian written by Jeanne Betancourt

A touching story about a boy called Brian who discovers that he has dyslexia and the confusion and frustration that follows, this book is recommended for children aged over 10 who are seeking inspiration from someone who is experiencing the same struggles – and triumphs! – with dyslexia. 

  • Overcoming Dyslexia (2020 Edition) written by Sally Shaywitz

An American physician-scientist, Sally Shaywitz is also the co-founder and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity at Yale University. This comprehensive and practical book helps identify, understand and overcome reading problems for dyslexics. Complete with the tools parents need to help their children, expect to find reading exercises, ways to build self-esteem, success stories, school and college suggestions for dyslexic students and so much more. 

  • Blast Off to Reading! 50 Orton-Gillingham Based Lessons for Struggling Readers and Those with Dyslexia written by Cheryl Orlassino

Designed for older students aged 7-13, this a multisensory reading program for dyslexia based on the structured literary approach, Orton-Gillingham. Each lesson in the book teaches a new sound or rule and there are exercises to follow which review these concepts. It also comes with a free web app that features audio dictations, flash cards, games and teaching tools – what are you waiting for?

If you want to read real-life stories about real people and their experiences, you can head to our Personal Stories section. Here, you’ll also find an interview with one of our GoStudent writers Guy Doza, a secondary school teacher who has dyslexia. 👨‍🏫

For extra reading help, we are more than happy to offer your child lessons and guidance. Book your free trial session on the GoStudent website today. 😊

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