How can technology help a struggling dyslexic reader ?
You may think that the only way to help your child to read better is for them to do all the reading and that anything else is cheating. However, technology can be really helpful in developing your child's skills and shouldn't be completely ignored.
You already know that reading is the most important skill that your child needs to succeed but they absolutely hate reading or they just find it slow and lose the thread of what is happening because they have to 'sound out' words all the time.
Audio books can be really helpful to get your child enjoying books . They enable your child to get into the story and use their imaginations as their working memory is freed up to simply enjoy the story (you can read more about working memory here).
We know that reading improves vocabulary and this is where a lot of the gains are made as they are still taking on new vocabulary whilst listening to the books. One of the key issues I see with some of my students is that they have limited vocabularies which in turn makes it difficult to gain a good grade in English Language GCSE. Audio books can therefore be a useful tool to increase your child's vocabulary, making it a win - win situation.
There is little research about the effectiveness of audio books but a lot of articles which point out observed benefits of using these which range from struggling readers experiencing books being read out in an exciting and dramatic way , which improves enjoyment, to hearing a book being read correctly with pauses where punctuation shows there should be one so that comprehension of the story follows. Other teachers have noted that listening skills have also improved. I think these are pretty compelling reasons to start using audio books.
If you still feel a little uncomfortable about this route, then make audio books part of the reading 'mix' with some time spent with your child reading the old fashioned way. Your child could have a book they read which is at the correct level for their reading skills and then have audio books which would stretch them to read but may be at a better enjoyment level. You could also throw reading together into the mix. Using these methods together would make a pretty potent recipe for reading success.
Text to Speech Software
One of my clients was expected to research subjects on the internet for school but a key problem was reading the masses of information he found, making his homework a major marathon to be run every night. I suggested he use text to speech software, which many computers have installed as standard these days, to help him sift through the reams of reading.
I think that we sometimes overlook these possibilities because we think that is 'cheating'. At the moment, though, this lad is quickly losing the will to live and feels picked on by his teachers. If technology can make his life easier and, more importantly, enables him to engage with his learning then , in my opinion, he should use it.
There are many apps out there which can help your struggling, dyslexic reader to learn how sounds and letters go together, a key area of difficulty. These include ones such as Nessy, Dyslexia Gold Lexia to name a few. These organisations tend to carry out their own research on how effective they are. Research by Nessy states that if the intervention is used by Primary Schools then reading ages are improved by 1 year and 3 months in a 12 week period.
Generally, these are tools which we are happier to make use of. Gone are the days of having to do endless worksheets to help your child learn. Most children are very happy to pick up a phone/tablet or use a computer to help them with their learning. It can help to take down barriers to learning for your child by removing the 'I don't want to..' scenario.
The Key Points
1. Don't shut your mind to how technology can help your child develop their reading skills.
2. Use technology as part of a 'mix' of methods you are going to use to help your child with their reading.
3. Think about the situations when the technology is appropriate to use - reading through lots of research for a history project is a very good time.
4. Make sure your child is still working on their skills 'the traditional way' too so that independent working and exams don't become a problem.
If you would like to learn more tips and strategies for helping your dyslexic child, then please join my free Facebook group here.