How can I support my child?
Homework can be a frustrating and upsetting experience for dyslexic students and their parents.
For a student with dyslexia it's not just the homework task itself that can be challenging, many dyslexic people can really struggle with organisation, concentration and short term memory. All of these things can make homework a daily source of confusion and frustration. This can result in a reluctance to try and poor self-confidence.
There are strategies that every parent can put in place to support their child's learning.
Establish a routine
Dyslexic learners may find it difficult to maintain concentration for long periods of time and may get tired quickly, so it's a good idea to create a routine which emphasises 'a little and often' rather than trying to squeeze too much work into a longer session.
Remember to take after-school activities into account when you develop your homework plan.
Encourage your child to write down what is needed for the next day and to check the list before they leave for school/college.
Support your child
Be encouraging. Praise your child when they are trying their best, and focus your praise 'It was really good when you..'.
Go over homework instructions together to make sure they understand what they are supposed to do. You can help your child to prepare for tasks and generate ideas together before they start work.
If your child has difficulty writing homework down at school or remembering tasks, talk to their teacher so that the homework is given to them on a worksheet or can be accessed via the school's website.
Help your child learn to check their own work, so this becomes a natural part of the homework routine as they get older. Your child may find working on a computer easier than writing. Show them how to use the spellcheck facility and help them learn to touch type.
Other useful strategies include:
- Reading work out loud or using text-to-speech software to read work back – this can help to identify errors that your child might miss when they read silently
- Making a list of frequent spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes to check against. For example, if your child often misses capital letters, make sure that's on the list.
Dyslexic people can really struggle with organisation. For an older child technology such as a mobile phone will be a helpful tool. They can take photos of any important information, set reminders of important events or deadlines and record voice messages as a reminder.
Other useful strategies are to:
- Help your child to make a written homework plan which includes tasks and deadlines, and revision plans.
- Colour-code subjects and make sure all notes for a particular subject are kept together in folders.
- Create visual reminders such as a prominent calendar or 'to do' list.
Try to help your child build successful study skills for example, by creating a revision timetable, by using different techniques for revising and reviewing learning, e.g. using mindmaps, by talking through or recording what they've learned, or by thinking of different ways to complete a particular task.
Encourage them to think of coping strategies for when they get 'stuck'. For example, who would be the right person to ask for help if they are unable to tackle a problem on their own.
The British Dyslexia Association has created a series of videos for teachers called Teaching for Neurodiversity which cover a range of topics such as spelling, writing and homework. You may find them helpful to support learning at home.