How can I support my child?
Many parents first become aware of their child's dyslexia when their child starts school and they experience difficulties learning to read. Some children also experience visual difficulties which can make it appear that the text is moving or blurring on the page. If your child does complain of difficulties like these, an sight test with an optometrist is essential.
For children who have difficulties learning to read, the effort needed to concentrate can be exhausting and can often lead to frustration and a reluctance to try to learn.
The implications of slow, laboured reading are far-reaching and can impact a student throughout their education. Therefore it's crucial that difficulties are identified and appropriate support is put in place as quickly as possible to help your child.
Helping your child to read
Paired reading is a good way to help your child to read and enjoy books. Allow your child to choose a book they want to read and let them start reading. When they make a mistake give your child a few seconds to have a go, but then say the word yourself - this keeps the flow going.
If the book is too hard for your child, read the words together. Read at your child's pace. Let your child decide on a signal they can give you when they want to carry on reading on their own. If they make a mistake, say the word and then carry on reading together. You can switch from reading together to your child reading alone. Try to do this for 10 minutes every day - share the book together rather than 'hear' your child read.
At the end of a page or section, talk about what you've read together. Ask what might happen next and whether it reminds your child of another story or film.
Many dyslexic people have found that reading apps for mobile phones, and ereaders, such as a Kindle, enable them to read for pleasure. An ordinary page of text can be split into several pages, and you can adjust the font type, size and spacing, and the brightness of the screen.
Screen readers are a type of software that convert text to speech, and are more suited to the older learner. Many are now available as free apps for smartphones and tablets, and have been included on some e-readers as standard.
Reading pens can be useful as they are easy to carry around, but they tend to be better for small pieces of text, or individual words.
Listening to audio books can help children keep an interest in stories even when they are reluctant to read. They help a child develop key skills such as listening and concentration, and are a good introduction to new words and ways of using language. Some audio book apps will highlight the text on screen as it is being read, which can help your child identify words.
There are several websites that offer free audio books.
RNIB Bookshare is a free service which offers audio books or books in a screen reader-friendly format to educational institutions. Ask your school or college whether they have registered.
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.