Around 6 million people in the UK are dyslexic (Dyslexia Reading Well) and it has become easier to recognise and diagnose over the years.

How to support your child with dyslexia / Photocredit: Pixabay
How to support your child with dyslexia / Photocredit: Pixabay

As many parents have become teacher to their children in the last 18 months - due to the pandemic - we have become more aware of our child’s academic capabilities. However, the signs may not always be clear, for some.

If you have spotted the signs of dyslexia but are unsure on how to support your child or you are seeking more information - we're here to help.

Lisette Kuijt - child psychologist at the online tutoring platform, GoStudent – provides a deeper look into dyslexia and how you can help your child.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that causes trouble with reading, spelling, and writing. Phonological awareness, the ability to match letters and combinations of letters (phonemes) with the sound that they make, is difficult for people with dyslexia. These challenges have nothing to do with overall intelligence. Dyslexia is one of the most prevalent learning disorders in children - approximately 5-10% of school-going children suffer from it. 

Sometimes, it is possible to spot symptoms of dyslexia before your child even starts reading or writing. At a young age, dyslexia manifests itself mostly in speech problems. As a parent, you may notice that your child has some trouble pronouncing longer words, finding the right words to express themselves, or putting sentences together in the right way. Rhymes are likely to be difficult to understand for your child.

How can you tell if your child has dyslexia? 

When children start going to school, the symptoms of dyslexia become more obvious in their reading and writing. While learning to read, your child may have more problems with learning the names and sounds of letters. Reading out loud and spelling words will be very difficult. While learning to write, your child will make mistakes when writing down the letters - the most common error is confusing the letters b, d, and p. Handwriting in children with dyslexia is usually less developed.

Some children with dyslexia also struggle with problems relating to memory and attention span (and are more likely to have additional diagnoses relating to concentration, such as ADHD).

What is your advice for talking to your child about dyslexia?

Children with dyslexia are more likely to struggle with self-esteem issues due to their symptoms. As other children around them are achieving academic success with more ease, your child has to work a lot harder to develop their writing and reading.

When you talk to your child about dyslexia, it is very important that you clarify for them that their struggles have nothing to do with intelligence or other cognitive abilities. Children are often very relieved to know that there is a name for what they are experiencing, and that other children experience the exact same thing!

Your child with dyslexia can experience frustration regarding their symptoms. Reading, writing and even expressing how they feel about these things can be very challenging for them. If your child shows this frustration, try to stay calm and understanding. It is very important that your child feels encouraged and supported at school and at home, so you can keep working on their skills together. Your child needs more support and positive input, so be sure to celebrate the small victories.

Sadly, dyslexia is a learning problem that cannot be solved. What we can do is support children with dyslexia in their development by offering them the right tools. Most schools already offer extra time for students with dyslexia to finish homework or tests. Parents can also try the multi-sensory learning approach. In this approach, you try to teach with more than just speech and writing. This can involve pictures, diagrams, or games. You can also explore new ways of approaching the subject, for example, writing words with glitter, clay, or toys together.

Children with dyslexia experience a lot of difficulties and frustration while trying to learn to read and write. These negative experiences may create even more reluctance to continue learning. Try to create a positive environment to encourage the learning process and self-esteem of the child.


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