As a teacher, tutor, and parent of a child who struggles with Dyslexia, I have found there are some simple things that parents can do to help their child. It doesn’t really matter if your child has been diagnosed with Dyslexia or if they simply struggle with those tendencies, these are things that you can do right now to help your child.
I must admit, I found these things out on my own. When my own daughter began to show struggles with writing, I had no one to tell me that these are the things I should do. There was really not a lot of help out there, and I had to do some research. My goal is to help other parents, and teachers, to know what to do in order to really help these kiddos out.
1. Reteach how to correctly write letters and numbers.
I discovered this while tutoring some fourth-grade students who struggled with classic Dyslexia. They tended to write their letters and numbers upside down. For example, instead of writing an “l” from top to bottom, they wrote it from bottom to top. They would draw an “o” from the bottom and counterclockwise. Normally, if you learned how to print, you learned to write an “o” from the 12 o’clock position and clockwise.
Students with Dyslexia really need this corrected. You can easily find and print out handwriting practice sheets online. As for homework, you are going to have to sit and watch how they write each and every letter and number, but it is worth taking time to do it—I promise!
2. Have a “cheat sheet” of common letters and numbers that your child writes backwards.
This is great for the teacher to put on their desk as well. My daughter’s teacher had a little card on her desk with the letters she was writing backwards. This helped her to slow down and copy that letter until her brain learned to write it correctly. This helped right away at home as well. We also had a number chart for her to use when doing her homework. Numbers are often written backwards as well, so don’t overlook them.
3. Teach your child how to write in D’Nealian or cursive as early as possible.
I cannot stress this enough: teach your child how to write in D’Nealian as soon as possible. Students who write in cursive, or a form of simplified cursive, do not show Dyslexic tendencies as much. Why? Because a cursive “b” and “d” cannot be confused since the formation is totally different, unlike print where they are mirror images of one another. The same goes for “p” and “q.” In print, they are mirror images, but not so in cursive. Again, you can print practice sheets you find online for free.
4. Do Brain Gym exercises with your child.
Yes, exercise helps—believe it or not! People that have Dyslexia have trouble crossing the middle of their body, and it has to do with the right and left sides of their brain. Ways to combat this include practice skipping, touching opposite elbows to the opposite knee, or touching opposite foot and hands. I know this sounds strange, but believe me it works! My previous elementary campus found this so helpful that all third-grade teachers would stop class and do Brain Gym in the classroom before reading and writing activities. It helped the students with Dyslexia, and the other students as well.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are simple things you can do today to help your child with their struggles with Dyslexia or similar symptoms. Early intervention is the key! And, of course, if you feel that your child may have Dyslexia, do get them tested through your school or doctor.
Featured photo credit: Denise Krebs via Flickr via flickr.com