Reading is often the first indicator from school that your child may have dyslexia or other learning difficulty. It is also one of the key things that , as a specialist dyslexia tutor, I am called in to help with. According to research, dyslexia is an issue with matching sounds to letters ( known as phonological awareness) and it is when a child has a problem with this that they receive an assessment of dyslexia ( usually accompanied by a poor working memory).
The issue to me seems slightly more complex than this because some children learn the whole word better ( they are usually visual learners) and can recognise the word once they have seen it before; others struggle to recognise whole words and rely on sounding out more ( usually auditory learners). For fluent reading, they need to be able to sound out unfamiliar words; recognise those words they have seen before and to look for familiar ‘root’ words in longer words. Therefore we need to help our visual learners to break words down into sounds and our auditory learners to recognise whole words.
How can you help your child to achieve this?
Tip 1: Label objects in your home. You can just use post it notes to do this. Ask your child to read the words ( they will be able to attach the word to a mental picture of the object).
Tip 2: For words they encounter in their reading books which they don’t know, make up a small flashcard for the word ( Amazon sell blank playing cards which are excellent for this). If the word relates to an object ( eg ball) or an action ( eg skipping) then ask your child to draw a small picture of this first and then write the word over it. For the smaller words such as ‘the’ , just write the word.
Tip 3: For your labelled objects and flashcards, start asking your child for the start sounds of the words. When this is being mastered, ask for the end sounds. For shorter words you can eventually move on to asking for the middle sounds. This helps to develop phonological skills.
Tip 4: Once they are happy with the idea of start, middle and end sounds you can ask them to try sounding out some easy, short words that they may read such as ‘sheep’ or ‘cat’.
Tip 5 : There are apps and computer programmes which have been designed to help children develop awareness of sounds and letters. The best one out there ( in my opinion) is Nessy as it is games based and most children enjoy doing it.
The above tips should get your visual learners breaking words down into sounds and your auditory learners recognising whole words. It will take time and patience for this to be achieved, there are no overnight solutions to reading difficulties.
These tips will help your child develop their reading skills.You can also read about how working memory can hinder your child's academic skills here.
You can get more ideas to help your child develop their reading skills here.
If you would like more tips and ideas to help your child then click here to join my free Facebook group.