WHAT CAN A PARENT DO TO SUPPORT A DYSLEXIC CHILD IN LITERACY?
We asked this very question to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). Their expert, Ms Geetha Shantha Ram, shares how we, as parents, can support our dyslexic child as well a make learning fun. These 6 key ways to support a dyslexic child in literacy are not only valuable information for parents with a dyslexic child but also for educators who work closely with children with dyslexia.
There are several ways parents can support their children in literacy and the best ways are almost always fun for the child so Make Learning Fun with these 6 ways to support a dyslexic child in literacy:-
(1) PRACTISE PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS SKILLS
Most learners with dyslexia suffer from 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)
(2) HEAR, SEE, SPEAK AND READ WORDS
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 key words and ask the child to form a story around the picture, using the key word. Organise story-telling activities as part of family get-togethers. These are fun ways parents can support their learners in their literacy development.
(3) MAKE LEARNING ACTIVITIES MULTISENSORY
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.
(4) CELEBRATE SUCCESSES
Children with dyslexia may often be confused and suffer from low self-esteem as a result of difficulties they encounter in school. As such, parents’s 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.
(5) BE THE CHILD’S CHAMPION
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.
(6) EMBRACE DYSLEXIA COMPLETELY
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 are 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.
UnITE SpLD 2015 CONFERENCE
DAS Academy Ltd (a subsidiary of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore) is organising a conference for all – parents, teachers and practitioners – working with children with specific learning difficulties and special educational needs.
The Conference will cover aspects of behavioural, literacy and social emotional support, intervention and assessment for children with special needs. Plenary Session Topics include; Self-Esteem and Dyslexia, The lens you use to view dyslexia and why it matters and Learning disabilities : From operating definition to operational application.
SIGN UP NOW – HERE –
UnITE SpLD 2015 – Connecting Minds and Redefining Possibilities – Uniting Ideas in Teaching Excellence will be held on Friday, 26th June 2015 at 9am to 5.30pm on location at the HDB Hub Auditorium.
For more information about DAS Academy Ltd, please click HERE
Sign up before 1 June 2015 to enjoy S$20 discount early bird rate S$178 (u.p.S$198)
We would like to thank DAS for lending us their expert, Geetha Shantha Ram, and also thank Geetha for her time in preparing this expert advice to parents. Geetha Shantha Ram is the Director of MOE-aided DAS Literacy Programme & Staff Professional Development. You may click HERE to see DAS staff and know more about Geetha.