After seeking an assessment and discovering that their child’s learning challenges stem from...
How to Explain Dyslexia To Your Child
Do you suspect that your child has dyslexia-related learning difficulties? Before taking them to a testing centre, it’s important to explain what dyslexia is and why you’re seeking a diagnosis.
You might find that your child is already aware of their reading and writing problems and that their dyslexia is causing low self-esteem.
But what your child might not know is that, while dyslexia can lead to lifelong challenges, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having it. In fact, dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence and it’s so common that 10% of Singaporeans have the condition.
As a parent, it’s important to explain dyslexia to your child. This will help them understand that there is a reason for their difficulties and that you’re there to help them find a solution. By opening up a dialogue, you go a long way to making your child feel safe and supported.
Tips for Explaining Dyslexia To Your Child
All children respond differently to being told that they have dyslexia. Some may feel relief as a dyslexia diagnosis explains their learning differences. Others may see their difference as a source of shame. With that in mind, here are five tips for talking about dyslexia with your child:
- Explain what dyslexia means — Children with learning challenges deserve to know that there is a reason for their difficulties, and that they aren’t the only children who struggle to learn. For inspiration, you could say something like this:
“While you’re as clever as other kids, I know that reading can be a struggle and that words don’t always make sense. Your brain works a little differently because you have dyslexia. That’s a big word for adults and kids who find it difficult to learn how to read and write.
But you’re not alone because dyslexia is a super common medical condition. Think of it this way: kids who are short-sighted also have a medical condition. Instead of needing help with reading and writing, these kids and adults need special glasses to help them see. So getting extra help to learn how to read and write isn’t that different from getting glasses that help you see.”
- Be careful, clear, and accurate with your language — Try to show that learning conditions are manageable and commonly experienced. If you’re planning to get a dyslexia assessment, try saying something like this:
“After we visit a doctor, then we’ll know if you have dyslexia. But don’t worry. There are lots of other clever kids who have dyslexia. And if that’s what you have, then we’ll work with teachers to help you catch up with your reading and writing.”
- Explain your role in your child’s learning journey — Your child may question your understanding about what they’re going through. As dyslexia can impact their day-to-day lives, showing your child constant support can give them the strength to keep learning, despite how difficult it can be. You can explain your role like this:
“I can see that dyslexia affects many things in your life, like reading words in games or when trying to get through a school book. I’m proud that you try so hard even though dyslexia can make it difficult. I’m always here to help with anything you need.”
- Help them express their difference to their peers — Your child’s friends and classmates probably won’t understand how dyslexia can cause reading problems and other challenges. With your help, you can give your child the vocabulary to discuss their learning condition. Use words like:
“Talking to people about your dyslexia is your choice. But if you feel comfortable with some of your friends, then you can say, ‘Sometimes I take longer to read and write but that’s because I learn differently than you do. And that’s OK because we’re all different.’”
- Be positive about the future — children do not outgrow dyslexia. This can make them question their future. As your child grows older, speak to them about what lies ahead and help them understand that dyslexia won’t determine their path in life. Explain it like this:
“It’s normal to think about what your dyslexia will be like when you’re grown up. Your trouble reading and writing won’t go away but you will get better at it over time. And you’ll still have many opportunities to follow your dream and do what you love. It just means that we need to be determined and work a little harder.
But there are many people with dyslexia who have been incredibly successful. Did you know that Richard Branson has dyslexia? And he’s a billionaire.”
Preparing Your Child For Success
When explaining dyslexia to your child, remember that it isn’t a one-off conversation. Your child should feel free to ask you questions in the future. And remember that dyslexia is a lifelong condition, so practice patience and be careful to not dismiss your child’s experiences.
But while dyslexia is permanent, there are specialist intervention programmes that provide children with skills that limit their difficulties. At Thomson Kids, we’ve helped many children with dyslexia enjoy success both in and out of school.
Our team of educational specialists, psychologists and teachers will work closely with you to see your child overcome their dyslexia-related difficulties. Often, this begins with an assessment where we pinpoint your child’s specific and unique learning needs.
Want to learn more about our dyslexia assessments and early intervention programme? Click the link below to speak to one of our specialists. We can also share more of our insights on how you can explain dyslexia to your child.