Most learners with dyslexia have a phonological deficit and phonological awareness influences the ease with which they develop reading and spelling skills. An important first step in improving phonological awareness is rhyme awareness. So, encourage a pre-schooler to sing nursery rhymes and play rhyme games. For slightly older learners, work on smaller units of sounds such as syllables, or single sounds (also known as phonemes)

Rhyme games can take place anytime and anywhere, just ask them to tell you which two of the three words you’ve said are rhymes. Or create a rhyme book – simply cut out pictures from old, discarded books and ask the child to locate a rhyming picture, for instance, a picture of the sun could go with a picture of someone running. Don’t forget to ask them what the word is.

For older children, ask them what the first sound in a word is, ask them to tell you several other words that have the same first sound. This can be played as a game where you take turns coming up with words that have the same starting sound. You can also make them come up with funny phrases that have words that all begin with the same first sound (also known as alliteration)

Most often, we encourage parents to engage their children in reading activities. Even if a child is too young to read, the act of reading to the child has many benefits. The development of listening and oral vocabulary is an important precursor to the development of reading and writing vocabulary. It’s important that parents point to the words as they read so that children can begin to form more concrete associations between the print and the sounds they hear.

Having discussions about what they’ve read is a strategy used to enhance comprehension skills and oracy skills, so read a book that is of interest to the child and ask questions.

Ask the child to retell the story to his/her siblings or grandparents. Or continue the story in his/her own way. Place a series of pictures with some keywords and ask the child to form a story around the picture, using the keyword. Organise storytelling activities as part of family get-togethers. These are fun ways parents can support their learners in their literacy development.

Parents can also aim to engage their children through all their senses. Make learning literacy a multisensory experience. It is said that we retain only ten percent of what we hear and that figure grows every time you include other senses, and you have the potential to retain up to ninety percent of what you hear, see, say and do.

If the child is ready for letter formation, parents can go beyond the pencil and paper methods and use a variety of materials like play dough, whip cream, sparkles, sand and pipe cleaners to encourage them to form letters. When explaining something, like the meaning of a word, verbally model an example, show them what it means through visuals and illustrations and stick these images up on the walls or the fridge while asking the child to produce more examples with you.

Children with dyslexia may often be confused and suffer from low self-esteem as a result of the difficulties they encounter in school. As such, parents’ understanding and support are crucial to raising their confidence in their learning ability. Working together to create expectations on what they can achieve in tests, or a specific task like reading would demonstrate to the children that their parents are partnering them in this learning journey. Recognising achievements, no matter how small they may seem, recognises effort. After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with and consists of many single steps.

As the children may be too young to represent themselves and seek out the appropriate guidance, parents can support them by advocating for their needs. Many people and professionals are involved in the support of a child, so parents may engage as many of them as possible to work together with them to enable their children towards success.

I highly recommend that parents are fully aware of what dyslexia truly is. Being the parent of a child with dyslexia need not be a lonely experience as they can get connected to a parent network for support and to stay current with news and developments about dyslexia. Parents may also explain to their children about what dyslexia is in ways that they can understand and assure them that they have as much potential as other children and they are loved. When defining dyslexia, parents must not overlook the strengths it offers.

A 2004 British study reported that 20% of entrepreneurs are likely to have dyslexia and in a more recent study from the US, the figures have risen to 35%. Clearly, there are dyslexic advantages, so parents can work towards identifying these in their children and boosting these skills in appropriate ways. Parents can share success stories with their children, describing how many individuals with dyslexia had similar struggles and have worked hard to achieve great success in their fields.

Tips provided by
Geetha Shantha Ram
DAS English Language and Literacy Division,
SpLD Assessment Services & Staff Professional Development

Click here to learn more about Geetha


‘This article was posted on Bubbamama.