Helping your dyslexic child

Are you the parent of a child who just does not seem to fit into school? Perhaps he or she is having difficulties recognising letters, tying their shoe laces, remembering nursery rhymes or clapping a simple rhythm. It may be that your child is dyslexic.

Through the British Dyslexia Association National Helpline we hear everyday from parents who are in despair about what to do for their child. Many are falling behind in their reading at school and clearly something is amiss, but the child’s teacher just does not seem able to recognise what the problem is.

Sadly, the situation in our schools today is that a child will be at least two years behind in their reading before any interventions. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule and some schools are very good at recognising dyslexic children and giving them appropriate support. Unfortunately, for most, this is not the case. And that is why we have one in five children leaving primary school who cannot read or write.

Leaving primary school without these vital skills can make the transition into senior school really traumatic. It is during this time that a child may begin to become anti-social and their behaviour deteriorates rapidly. For these young people the future is definitely blighted and they are at serious risk of becoming disaffected and involved with the criminal justice system.

What can you do as a parent?

Information and understanding will empower you to enable your child to gain the appropriate support they need and reach their potential. The British Dyslexia Association is here to help you. It has a National Helpline and a website: where there is a wealth of information and dyslexia expertise to help you. The BDA is also running a programme of Practical Solutions for Dyslexia giving parents the practical tools they need to support their child at home.

There is no cure for dyslexia but coping strategies, which will enable your child to overcome their difficulties, can be taught. That way he or she can aspire to good qualifications and suitable employment.

Remember to be positive

As a parent, one of the key things you can do is try to be sure to praise your child for the things that they can do - and not get frustrated with them when they cannot remember things.

  • Dyslexia is not just about being able to read or write, it is also about working memory, organisational skills and concentration.
  • You must not expect your child to remember a string of instructions when given in one go.
  • Break tasks and instructions down into bite size pieces, show the child how to do something first and then ask them to copy you. This is really a case of where patience will win out.
  • Colour code things for them so that they have visual clues as well as auditory clues to remember things. For example, cover or mark school books that go together in one subject matter with the same paper or coloured marker pen. They will then know to quickly pick these up when they have the appropriate lesson in school. You could even ask their teacher to put the same coloured mark on the door of the classroom so that they can instantly identify it. You might be surprised by the number of children who sit in a lesson worrying about where the next classroom is located, rather than listening to what the teacher is saying.
If your child has problems with their handwriting then help them to learn to touch-type. A child as young as seven years old can achieve this and there are some brilliant software packages available to help teach your child these skills. The result of this? They will be able to hand in presentable, legible homework to their teacher.

Encourage teachers to positively correct the child’s work (and them) when they have done something wrong. This keeps the child’s self-esteem in tact and ensures that they remain positive and motivated about their school work and school environment.

Related links

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Find out more

For more tips on how to help your child, find out where the Practical Solutions for Dyslexia programme is near you. Details are on the BDA website or you can telephone Paul Brackley on 0118 929 6943.

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