When a boy with dyslexia was repeatedly asked to read aloud in class, he described his reading challenges in the following words, “The letters are dancing.” This is exactly how a child with dyslexia feels. Words and letters seem to make no sense.
Almost 13-14 % of school-aged children have dyslexia. In the US 35% of children receiving services under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) have dyslexia.
Fortunately, many effective reading strategies have been developed to help children with dyslexia. Let me share those strategies with you.
But before that, let us have a quick look at the common symptoms of dyslexia.
Symptoms of dyslexia
Symptoms of dyslexia are usually noticed once children are introduced to reading. The most common symptoms include:
- Delayed speech development
- Replacing the sounds while saying words e.g. “bucoard” instead of “cupboard”
- Directional confusion
- Difficulty following verbal directions
- Difficulty in memorizing the shapes of letters
- Difficulty in learning phonics, i.e. associating phonemes with graphemes.
- Reading level significantly behind age mates
- Difficulty in comprehending the meaning of text being read
But remember that reading difficulties arising out of Intellectual impairment, visual, or hearing problems are not accounted for under diagnosis of dyslexia.
Five effective strategies to help a child with dyslexia read
Following are a few time-tested strategies to help children with dyslexia read.
1. Multi-sensory learning material
Using VAKT (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) learning material can help in reading acquisition.
A few examples of effective multi-sensory learning activities are:
- Writing letters in a sand tray with their fingers
- Using tactile, sand paper flash cards to develop a mental picture of letters
- Making letters with Play dough
- Matching letters with pictures of objects
- Tracing the alphabet on their arm, with their eyes closed
- Placing pieces of paper with the alphabet on the floor and then jumping on the letters as you call them out
- Treasure hunt – finding hidden objects and placing in a matching basket labelled with the first letter of the object
2. Letter stories
Children with dyslexia find it really difficult to remember the shapes of letters. They tend to confuse similar letters, e.g. “b” and “d”, “p” and “q”, “t” and “f”, “m” and “w”.
Associating stories with alphabets can really help in learning the graphemes or shapes of letters. A few stories I have used are:
- “d was a good runner. He was well ahead and looking back towards b”.
- “p and q were playing on my arm; p liked my wrist and q liked my elbow”.
3. Prompted reading
You can facilitate reading by using different colors or shapes as cues. For example,
- For rhyming words, e.g words ending with “at” like “cat” and “bat” you can use two different colors. “at” can be red and beginning letter(s) can be written in blue.
- Similarly, verbs can be color codded in a sentence to facilitate reading.
- Drawing a moon around word “moon” or sun around word “sun”, can be another way of prompted reading.
Once the child starts to read, gradually take away the prompts.
4. Use online learning games
Virtual environments are predictable, interesting, colorful, and seem less threatening. Therefore, children learn in a fun way, without any fear of failure.
The following online learning sites can help your child read:
5. Enjoy reading
Don’t let reading become a stressor for your child. Make it fun.
- Establish a family reading circle.
- Use colorful stories,
- Read aloud to each other.
- Discuss thesequence of events and characters of stories.
As a mom, discover the learning style of your child and build your strategies upon it. Once your child overcomes the frustrations of dyslexia, he or she will appreciate the beauty of reading.