One of the first things that comes to mind when you hear the word dyslexia is reading difficulties and for good reason.
This is often the case due to differences in the way the dyslexic brain learns and processes language and this is what makes learning to read hard for some students. The learning challenges this presents to students with dyslexia can range from mild to severe especially when it comes to learning to read.
These differences which have an impact on how information is processed to the long term memory must be taken into consideration when teaching students with dyslexia how to read and when supporting the consistent practice and reinforcement of their reading skills.
The good news is that children with dyslexia can become confident readers with the right strategies in place to support their learning needs. This usually involves a combination of both school and home support.
What is dyslexia?
When it comes to defining dyslexia, there’s a lot of differing information to be found on the internet.
The question of ‘What is Dyslexia’, is often a polarising question.
One of the best definitions we’ve come across that explains what dyslexia is, is the 21st Century Definition of Dyslexia written by the global charity ‘Made By Dyslexia’ which is led by successful dyslexics.
Essentially, what this means is, that when it comes to learning to read, dyslexic students think, learn and process information differently. They can learn to read effectively when taught in a way that supports the way they learn and process information. With daily practice dyslexic students can continue to build and develop their reading skills to reach reading fluency.
To obtain a formal assessment for reading difficulties or a diagnosis of dyslexia, you will need the services of a Specialist Educational Psychologist. Organising including bookings and payment for a formal assessment is typically the responsibility of the parent.
The classroom is not the only place children learn to read. Parents and carers can also play a part in helping their child develop the essential skills required for the important lifelong skill of reading.
Parents and carers can use these simple strategies at home to help their dyslexic children learn to read.
1. Follow learn to read programs that offer explicit and systematic instruction.
2. Ensure your child has an understanding of The Alphabetic Principle.
4. Consider incorporating a multi-sensory approach such as visual phonics as part of your child’s learn to read strategy.
5. Use Dual Code Learning Strategies to support your child’s learning.
6. Use Dyslexia friendly fonts for readability.
There are many things a parent or carer can do to help their child learn to read. It’s the small steps taken each day that soon add up to reading progress and these are the things that make the most difference in the long run.
The good news is that your child won’t be in the learn to read phase forever. There are things you can do today to help your child progress. And whilst this may feel like an incredibly difficult part of your journey right now, I want to reassure you that there is light at the end of the tunnel for you and your child.
Reading is a lifelong skill and far too important to leave to chance. As a parent, I knew I had to take every possible opportunity to help my child. I knew that the small steps I took each day, were so important.
These were the steps that would help to shape my child’s future. For me, it always came back to the same question “Have I done enough.”
Unfortunately, the ability to read does not develop automatically in children by being around a lot of books. It’s a skill that needs to be taught directly and continues to develop over time. Our brains aren’t naturally wired to read.
Phonics is a method of instruction used to teach children how to read. Through this method, children learn the relationship between the letters of our written language and the sounds of our spoken language and how to apply these concepts to develop their reading skills. Phonics is considered to be the most effective method of learning to read.
For most students, this method of instruction is sufficient in teaching reading. However, children with dyslexia often find phonics instruction particularly difficult which can result in a child falling behind in their education.
What is Visual Phonics?
A large body of research supports the effectiveness of phonics instruction and multi-sensory approaches in learning.
Visual Phonics is a multi-sensory teaching tool that has the potential to improve reading outcomes by engaging more than one sense at a time during instruction.
Visual phonics approaches vary in style and delivery, and depending on the program can range in instruction from the use of hand gestures, chants to the use of images to aid students in learning to read.
Programs that engage more than one sense during instruction have been found to enhance a student’s memory and their ability to learn.
Look for programs that offer explicit and systematic instruction which provides a logical, progressive and sequenced approach to learning that is taught in a clear and direct way.
Programs that enable dyslexic students to learn at their own pace and encourage mastery before progression are beneficial to learning outcomes.
Online programs like The Reading Switch which use explicit and systematic instruction together with a visual phonics based, dual code reading approach can make a considerable difference in helping students with dyslexia learn how to read. The Reading Switch Program offers 5 levels of learning, is incredibly easy to follow, and can be used with your child, in the comfort of your own home.
The Reading Switch is a Dual Code Reading Program for Children with reading difficulties often associated with Dyslexia.