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How Visualisation Skills Help a Struggling Reader and Poor Speller?


Your dyslexic child is struggling with their reading and spelling and you might think that the only ways to help them are to follow programmes which incorporate a lot of copying out, repetition and boring worksheets. This is not the only way and teaching visualisation skills can really help your child learn to read and spell . I have found that those children who struggle the most do well when learning this skill and that this is the missing part of the 'reading and spelling jigsaw' for them.

What is Visualisation?

Visualising means seeing things in your minds eye - creating images in your head. It has already established itself as a powerful way of improving people's lives. The idea is that you visualise what you want in life and then break down your goals so that you achieve it. Athletes are well known for using this - they basically run through the action in their heads before their event so that they are mentally prepared and they 'know' what is going to happen. Mohammed Ali was famous for doing this and look at his level of success!

In terms of dyslexia and helping your child improve their reading and spelling, you are stimulating their visual memory and helping your child to make a mental picture of the word.

How does it work?

When you teach visualisation skills you are activating the right hand side of the brain. This side of the brain stores pictures and it is capable of storing a 'whole word' as a picture.

When a word is stored in this way, it is easier to recall which is basically what good readers do when they read a word they have seen before. It is this skill which your child needs to enable them to read fluently.

It is the same skill which good spellers use. You may do this automatically - have you ever experienced that feeling of looking at a word you have written and you know that 'it looks wrong'? This is your visual memory telling you that the picture of the word is incorrect. To correct it, you may write out the words a few times and choose the one which 'looks right'. This happens because you have used visualisation skills without realising it.

A key issue for some dyslexic children is that these skills do not come automatically to them and therefore they need to be taught how. For others, it is an absolute strength which is not harnessed enough.

Will this skill benefit my child?

In my experience of working with many dyslexic students, this skill benefits everyone. Your child may find this easy to do as it may play to their strengths, in which case you can adopt it as a quicker way for them to learn. But, this may be a weakness for your child in which case it will take longer for them to master this skill.

However, it is a good skill for all to master as it will help your child to stop:

- sounding out words which they have already come across

- give your child another way to spell words rather than just relying on how the word sounds to spell it.

Key points to remember

1. Visualisation is a good tool, as part of a range of tools, for your dyslexic child to use.

2. It can help them move from being a slow reader who sounds out most words to a fluent one only sounding out words they haven't seen before.

3. Don't just use visualisation techniques but also make sure your child also knows how to break words down into sounds and which letters makes those sounds.

Visualisation Workshop: I run visualisation workshops so that you can learn how to help your child develop these skills. If you would like to book on to my next workshop or find out more about it please click here.

You may also like to join my free Facebook group here where I give you tips and strategies to use with your dyslexic child to help make learning less frustrating.

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