How Can I Help My Dyslexic Child Write?
A lot of dyslexic children struggle with writing and it is an area that lots of parents like you feel ill equipped to help their child with. However, this need not be the case if you follow the ideas in this post.
First, decide which of the following best describes your child and their writing at the moment:
Not writing/unwilling to write anything.
2. Writing 4-5 sentences at the most but sentences incorrect.
3. Writing a short paragraph of about 6-7 sentences but spellings incorrect.
4. Writing quite a lot (1 side of exercise book) but ideas are all over the place, sentences are incorrect and spelling is inaccurate.
Second, decide on the goal for your child. The goals I have set out below correspond with the descriptions above so:
Writing about a subject they like and know for 5-10 minutes.
2. Starting to write 2 or 3 sentences correctly.
3. Ensure all common words are spelt correctly (if a lot are spelt incorrectly then aim for learning 2-3 words each week).
4. Use mind maps to help organise ideas and then correct 2-3 sentences and 2-3 common words which are misspelt.
There is nothing more demoralising for a dyslexic child than someone trying to correct all the mistakes at one time.
If your goal is number 1, then please notice that you don’t correct anything. You want your child to discover that they can write and even enjoy it! Correcting grammar and spellings will put them off. Once they become more confident, you can amend your goal to number 2 or number 3 as appropriate for your child.
Next, decide on the best method for your child to achieve a piece of writing. Are you going to:
Use an old-school method so that your child can write independently. I teach my students a 6 point writing plan which you can read how to do here.
2. Use technology such as speech to text software so that your child is encouraged to write. The advantage of this is that your child can show how creative their writing is. This is because the load has been taken off their working memory. You can read more about working memory and how this affects performance here.
3. Instead of using technology, you can be their scribe. You may be surprised by how much more your child can write and ideas they include once they aren’t doing the writing.
If you are going to use technology or scribe for your child, then you clearly won’t be tackling your child’s spelling. You could allow them to use technology or a scribe for most of the sentences and then get them to write 2 or 3 themselves so that spelling can also be corrected, if that is your goal.
You may feel that you can’t set these goals for your child, particularly when they are doing homework. I would suggest that you talk to your child’s teacher and explain your goals and approaches to written work at home and that you want their agreement for homework to be tackled the same way (or you could use the teacher’s goals if they make sense for your child). Both yours and the school’s end objective is for your child to progress, to enjoy the writing process and to highlight their true talents.
If your goal is to work on spellings, you can read more about how to teach spellings especially if the school method of look, cover, write, check isn’t working for your child by clicking here.
If your goal is to help your child write correct sentences, then you can read my article about how to do that here.
If you would like to know more about how to help your dyslexic child and make learning less frustrating for them, please join my free Facebook group here.