Parents are always asking me if there is something, besides hiring a tutor, that they can do to help their child with dyslexia. My answer is – Yes! There is a lot they can do!
Read, read, read a lot, to their child. Talk, talk, talk a lot about what they are reading. Write, write, write a lot about what they are reading.
While reading with a child make connections. Connect the thoughts in one book to the thoughts in other books and to life experiences. Model good comprehension skills – compare and contrast, classify information, look for cause and effect or facts and opinions, organize main ideas and details, make inferences, make predictions, draw conclusions, find problems and solutions, analyze the character, plot, setting, author’s purpose, sequence the events within the story.
While reading with a child grow his vocabulary by finding words that he doesn’t understand. Collect these new words in a word study notebook. A growing collection of words will give a sense of accomplishment and provide a way to remember them. Do more than making a list of new words. Use them or lose them! Make connections by analyzing new words, defining them, sorting them, using them in both oral and written language, understand a new word by discussing synonyms, antonyms, or connect it to other words in the same family (use www.wordinfo.info to find word families connected by Latin or Greek origins). Words often have amazing stories that come with them (use www.etymonline.com to find out more about a word’s history).
Write about what as been read. Use new vocabulary words in sentences. Writing can be a huge request so if needed be a scribe by writing down the child’s thoughts for them. Give help with expressing thoughts in complete and structurally sound sentences. If a child willing writes down their own thoughts, first give them praise and then gently teach them editing skills (encourage don’t criticize). Share and explain grammar concepts and terminology to clarify sentence structure (there are excellent grammar sites online for grammar information – look under “Grammar” on the right side of my blog).
Many parents think because they aren’t “experts” they can’t do anything to help their child. Wrong! Developing a habit of spending time with a child reading a lot, talking a lot, and writing a lot, along with modeling comprehension skills, pointing out details and structures within words, sentences, and stories will be life changing for the child and the parent!