You have been told your child has dyslexia and now you want to try and explain what it is to your child. You know that it is important to explain it in a positive way, but when your child is really struggling you are not sure how you can go about it. Here are 5 different ways of explaining dyslexia to your child.
1. Use a good analogy that will mean something to them.
Dyslexia can bring a lot of challenges to your child and they often don’t want to hear that their difficulties will get easier over time. So rather than take this approach, relate it to something they will understand. For example, you could liken them to Harry Potter who everyone knows has magical powers so your child’s dyslexia could be likened to magical powers too.
Another example I have heard recently, is describing your child as a Formula 1 racing car – tricky to drive at the start but amazing after you have got the hang of it.
You can draw on the individuality of both of these and use that to help show your child that they, too, are an individual which is better than being part of a crowd.
2. Help them identify their strengths.
All too often when your child is told about dyslexia, it focusses on the negative aspects of it. Instead of doing this, explore and identify your child’s strengths- they are only too aware of the negative side! It is our strengths which help to define who we are and this will be the same for your child too.
Typical dyslexic strengths include being able to work as part of a team, being particularly empathic to others, having resilience and being creative. Your child may find it easier to ‘think outside the box’ and see the bigger picture. Often, they make connections that others don’t see or take a different view of the world.
Take some time out to explore your child’s strengths and explain them as being part of their dyslexia.
3. Look at famous individuals and draw comparisons.
This follows on from above. Once you have explored your child’s strengths, is there anyone famous who has similar ones to them? Dyslexic individuals have success in lots of different occupations from actors ( Tom Cruise and Keira Knightly) , artists and designers ( David Bailey and Pablo Picasso) , inventors and scientists ( Carol Greider and Pierre Curie) through to musicians and lawyers ( Erin Brockovich and Nigel Kennedy) to name a few.
Do you have a budding scientist or singer on your hands?
4. Acknowledge their challenges.
I do believe it is important to acknowledge the challenges your child is facing and to tell them that these are part of their dyslexia too. Do you know what your child’s particular challenges are?
The challenges my students face at school range from slow reading to not remembering spellings or times tables; writing can be challenging with getting their ideas down on paper through to spelling and punctuation errors and some find it difficult to understand what they have read.
At home, they may be disorganised, constantly late and forgetting things.
Once these have been acknowledged, you should look at their strengths to see how they might use those to help them with their challenges. For example, if they are creative, then they can use creative ways to learn their spellings. You could have colour coded drawers to help with organisation, so that your child knows what they need to pack every day for school.
5. Help your child look at themselves as a whole.
This really follows on from all the points above. ‘Knowing yourself’ and knowing about all the things you are good at versus things you are bad at is something everyone should know. When your child spends most of their time at school, it can be easy for them to be consumed by their difficulties and to relate more to the disability than the ability of dyslexia.
Your child may acknowledge dyslexia as part of them and many adults feel that dyslexia has made them the individual that they are. By taking a positive approach to explaining what dyslexia is , you can make a large difference to how your child views themselves and the world around them.
I am launching a new programme, Smashing Dyslexia, which explains what dyslexia is to children themselves and helps them explore their strengths. As this is a new programme, the first date that it runs from the 28th October 2017 is at an introductory price. If you would like to find out more about it, please either contact me or click here.
If you would like more tips and ideas on how to help your dyslexic child, please join my Free Facebook group here.