The summer break will soon be upon us again. You may think that the best thing for your dyslexic child is to take a nice, long break away from the pressures of school work, but if you think this means they shouldn’t keep up any of their reading and writing skills then you are mistaken.
It is well known among teachers and some parents that most children go backwards in their skills after the long, summer break. In my experience, this is even more so for dyslexic children who lose a lot of the skills they mastered before the holidays.
Most children will manage to pick up from where they left off after a few weeks of getting back into the school routine, but this is not the case for our dyslexic children.
An answer to this problem is for your child to do a summer dyslexia programme.
A recent study by neuroscientist John Gabrieli found that dyslexic children with poor vocabulary skills responded well to summer reading programmes aimed at dyslexic children. Other research by Joanna Christodoulo also shows that struggling readers in primary school improved their reading skills significantly after a summer reading programme. These results simply cannot be ignored.
The key point from both pieces of research is that the reading programmes must be aimed at dyslexic children. It is not enough to join the local libraries’ reading scheme and hope that this will improve your child’s reading. If their reading could be improved just by reading more, then no child would have a reading problem.
I’m not a complete kill joy though! I’m certainly not in favour of your child sitting down and doing a replica school day. But it is a time when they can keep working on their reading and writing skills in a fun way, and, more importantly, in a way which appeals to them.
So, my summer challenge to you is:
Put aside 10-20 minutes every day ( or maybe 3-4 days if that is too much)
Think about HOW your child likes to do things and plan activities around this
They may love filming, talking, drawing or acting. If filming is their thing, then get them to keep a video diary about their school holiday or get them to make a film about something which really interests them ( perhaps dinosaurs, rockets, cars, animals or favourite sweets......). If they love talking, what about setting up a podcast for them? This is relatively easy and cheap to do ( you can find lots of ways to do this on google).
Instead of writing about things, they could draw up mind maps to teach others about their passion (or to educate others about their difficulties), using pictures and words. Some children, especially boys, like to make cartoon strips ( you can download free software to help them do this if they are computer orientated or just good old pens and paper otherwise).
If you want to improve their reading, then sign up to a dyslexia reading programme which is fun and develops the phonetic and visual skills they need to succeed. This doesn’t need to mean another version of school- it is better for your child to do a programme little and often rather than sit down for long hours of intervention every day.
Do make time for reading together with the goal that this is fun reading time rather than the focus being on your child’s skills all the time.
If possible, take them on visits to local places of interest which you can make into a fun learning opportunity. Near me is a Roman castle, so reading about the Romans, watching films or listening to audio books is a good way to increase your child’s knowledge and then by visiting the castle, it will all come to life.
When you and your child are having fun, you won’t notice this 10-20 minutes – in fact, your child’s enthusiasm may mean you are both spending far longer doing this!
What are you planning to do over the summer holidays to ensure your dyslexic child keeps moving forward? What are they interested in and what strengths does your child have?
I will shortly be launching my ‘More Than Summer Reading’ programme which will use the fun games of Nessy together with time developing reading strategies with me. If you would like to register your interest for this, then please click here.