Do you suspect that your child has dyslexia-related learning difficulties? Before taking them to a ...
How to help your child overcome dyslexia
For many children, dyslexia may be a frustrating condition as they struggle to keep up with reading and writing. As a parent, you want to try your best to help them overcome the condition.
Whilst there is no “magic cure”, symptoms can be managed with the right early interventions and support.
Interventions should be specific and high quality - focusing on essential skills your child needs to learn. Additionally, students need to enrol in interventions for a sufficient duration for them to overcome dyslexia. Dealing with dyslexia is a journey rather than an overnight process, and most children require specific interventions for many years.
With that mind, we outline four strategies to support your dyslexic child.
Seek an early assessment for your child
If you suspect your child might have dyslexia, seeking an early assessment is an important first step.
Most times, students with dyslexia are unable to articulate the learning problems they face. This is seen as they would never have experienced reading and perceiving written words normally.
As such students start to fall behind in school, this may lead to a lack of confidence, as well as behavioural problems like school refusal and hiding their homework.
Therefore, diagnosing the underlying problem becomes essential. Parents should keep a lookout for possible symptoms of dyslexia, and seek an official diagnostic assessment.
These assessments are usually done in private clinics like Thomson Kids, a centre which supports children with learning difficulties. Conducted by experienced child psychologists, this comprehensive assessment provides a profile of your child’s cognitive, learning, academic, emotional and social skills needs.
This enables you to understand your child’s condition better and learn how to support them. Most experts also agree that early assessment and appropriate interventions can lead to significantly better outcomes for children with dyslexia.
Choose the right type of interventions
The right early intervention strategies go a long way towards helping students with dyslexia thrive in school. Thomson Kids' curriculum is specifically designed to help dyslexia children develop their reading and writing skills, thus maximising their learning potential.
The centre adopts a differentiated curriculum for English and Chinese language, developed by a team of experienced experts in psychology, speech therapy and special needs education.
Designed to help students struggling in mainstream schools, the curriculum is closely aligned with MOE’s current syllabus. This enables students to apply what they’ve learnt when doing homework and tests in school.
But in comparison to traditional classroom learning, lessons are made engaging through multi-sensory activities, coupled with specialised material and research-based teaching methods.
One such teaching approach is the well-regarded Orton Gillingham method, which educates students on the connection between letters and sounds. Once they grasp the consistent rules and patterns behind reading, they are able to decode words on their own.
Work with teachers to provide support at school
Of course, parents should be working closely with teachers to support students with dyslexia.
Thomson Kids’ psychologist and therapists have extensive experience working with schools and teachers on how to modify the learning environment to accommodate your child.
Students formally diagnosed with dyslexia typically have an accompanying psychological report. With this report, parents may apply for access arrangements - also known as pre-agreed adjustments made to examinations, tests and assessments in certain subjects for kids with learning disabilities.
These arrangements help compensate for a dyslexic child’s slower working speed, due to difficulties with phonological awareness and working memory.
Such arrangements may include:
- Extra time allocated for written papers
- A quiet separate room to complete exams and tests
- A bigger font size for exam papers
- More preparation time for oral reading
- The use of a computer word processor to type their exams, rather than writing them by hand.
Parents should also liaise regularly with school teachers on their child’s progress. Keep teachers informed on how long they take to complete homework assignments, and find out how they are coping during lessons.
Support them with reading and emotionally at home
Last but certainly not least, offer your child plenty of support at home. Dyslexic children may find learning to read frustrating at the start, but it doesn't always have to be this way. Some tips for fostering a love for reading include:
- Listening to audio books together and having your child read along
- Reading their favourite story-books together and taking turns to reading aloud
- Discuss the stories read and ask engaging questions like “What happens next?”
- Using picture books, comics and graphic novels to develop their interest in books
Emotional support is equally crucial. Tell your child that you understand their frustrations with learning, and how it does not come easily for them. Reminding them that they're not defined by dyslexia and that it’s OK to be slower than their peers.
Also, teach them to be patient with themselves throughout the process. Remind yourself to be patient with them too, as their progress and results may not always meet your expectations.
Motivate them by:
- Celebrating triumphs, like reading a difficult passage or doing well in a test
- Encouraging them to join other activities that build their confidence. For example, co-curricular activities like sports teams or music groups.
- Emphasising their strengths and skills rather than struggles
- Helping them combat self-negativity with a “I can do it” mindset
Find out more about Thomson Kids and our assessment services here.