Helping Dyslexic Pupils at Home
1. Check vision with a qualified optometrist.
Your child may need eye exercises or coloured lenses or overlays.
2. Use a card to help keep place.
Sections can be cut from the card to minimise the amount of print being read at any one time, which prevents too much confusion.
3. Paired reading.
Read with your child and let him/her read parts to you. When he/she gets tired or comes to a hard passage or word, you take over.
Try stopping at a very exciting stage so that they really want to know what comes next. Ask questions about what you have just read to check comprehension.
4. Choose fun books - comics and magazines are colourful, and have short, manageable articles, so they may be more suitable for a child who has difficulty reading for a long period of time.
5. Play syllable games and break long words into chunks.
There are lots of games which can incorporate syllables such as charades, Pictionary, etc.
1. Use a vowel card, keep it in your child's pencil case so he/she can prop it up on the desk when writing, and use it as a prompt.
2. Use syllables for 'chunking' words. Show your child how easy it is to spell long words by breaking them into smaller parts.
3. Mnemonics and acronyms can be very helpful for learning small words, which do not follow a regular phonetic pattern, e.g. does: does Oliver eat sweets?
The mnemonic should start with the word you are trying to learn, and should be accompanied by a drawing to reinforce memory.
Use pictures to help recall e.g. What a hat!
4. Use ridiculous pronunciations e.g. people (pee-opple).
5. Rhyme when you cannot remember how a word is spelt. Often dyslexics get sudden blanks and just cannot recall what a word looks like. This happens to us all but it happens more often to dyslexics. Rhyming words can often unlock the key to memory. Even if the word is misspelled it will be phonetically based so it can be understood.
6. Older students will find it helpful to learn to spell key subject words. Choose 6-8 words that are important to a particular subject they are studying. Put the words on a card and find a good way of learning them. You should aim to learn up to 6 per week.
7. Dictaphones can be very useful for senior students, particularly if they are slow to write as they often forget what they intend to say because of the demands of the writing and spelling process.
8. Spell checkers are more useful than dictionaries.
9. Word processing is ideal if your child enjoys using a computer, as an automatic spell checker can be used.
1. Use a white board, or a fridge door, with a dry-wipe marker pen for practicing spellings.
2. If your child's handwriting is poor, start by using a large, fat crayon or white board pen, gradually progressing to paper. At first, don’t worry about the size of the writing, concentrate on writing that is joined and even. 5 minutes practice every night, counting the number of words written and keeping a graphical record, then giving a reward at the end of the week is a good, regular way to improve writing. Do not forget that writing can be used to make patterns, which can then be coloured in. Borders around drawings can be made in this way and often make interesting designs.
3. Give starting sentences and phrases to older students. Often, students have lots of ideas but do not know how to start. Once they have been given a starting sentence they can proceed.
4. Planning is important. Try mind mapping and then prioritise the points. Develop each point with details to write a paragraph.
Supporting Older Students
Working collaboratively is likely to be very useful, even enjoyable, if handled thoughtfully. Students can help their parents by appreciating the offer of help while directing the activity themselves. If they choose the subject for help, the form it takes and revise the topic before being tested, they will show that they know what they are about and are revising successfully. A student’s workplace is important. They will need a big table, good light, access to power points, space for books and papers to be spread out. The room needs to be calm and quiet.
Parents will feel they are ‘interfering’ less if they can see a regular routine of work, preferably during the day. Support the routine by providing regular meals, transport to outdoor exercise or activities and meetings with friends.
· Provide supplies of coloured pens and highlighters, printer ink cartridges, blank tapes/DVDs, A3 paper, blank cards.
· Help to make tapes or record plays, novels or chapters from text books.
· In the evening, test revision completed during the day.
• Discuss with the student a reliable system for getting homework down in each subject.
• Comply meticulously with any school systems, e.g. checking and signing a homework book.
• Keep telephone numbers/e-mail addresses of reliable classmates.
• Take a copy of the homework timetable and know when homework has to be handed in.
• Find out the timescale for course work; there is often an opportunity for further supervised drafts if the student meets deadlines.
• Help the student to know what he is supposed to be doing, but try not to nag.
• Can you access homework assignments via the school network?
When should homework be done and where?
• Topics for negotiation: fix homework time for each day of the week. If a student agrees that the timing is reasonable (neither interfering with a favourite TV programme nor inconveniencing a family meal) he should expect to stick to it without fuss.
• Is the work-space warm, light and quiet? Listening to music may be helpful (blocks out other distractions in the house), but watching television won't be.
• Is there plenty of room - a generous table surface and shelves to keep books and files in good order?
• Keep up a supply of kit: hole punch and protectors, scissors, glue, A3 paper, highlighters, replace dried up felt tips, plastic wallets, index cards and box, dividers, tape-recorder and blank tapes, printer ink, files in various styles, a bag big enough to carry school gear, etc.
How can parents help?
• If a teenager doesn't feel in control, parents will be left out so limit your area of interest to something reasonable and try to get a copy of the textbook if at all possible.
• Agree a topic and get the student to decide what he/she would like you to do.
• If the work is learning, concentrate on finding a multisensory method and avoid testing until you are sure the work has mostly been learnt.
Examples of useful activities:
• Test languages vocabulary after it has been learnt.
• Look at mind-maps while the student describes it from memory.
• Ask questions the student has written out while reading.
• Agree key questions to read on to tape; leave pauses for replies.
• Listen to audio tapes, eg. Shakespeare plays, while the student follows the text.
• Check writing by reading it aloud.
• Remind the student to download or file the day's work, or negotiate a weekly ‘housekeeping’ session. Take an interest in content and presentation as well as organisation.
• It may be possible to e-mail work from home to be printed and handed in at school.
• Keep computers and printers in working order; success at school may depend on them.
• Remind or help the student to repack his bag for school next day, checking by timetable, not memory.
· Find a good, unabridged tape of the text – order from the public or school library, or from Listening Books.
· Collect a list of essay titles from a teacher or from old exam papers or revision guides.
· Buy highlighters
· Collect and sort class notes.
· Choose about 4 exam questions or themes and write each one on a separate piece of paper. Have an additional sheet for ‘random thoughts.’
· Use A3 paper to make mind-map summaries of the topic or book.
Making a mind-map while the student listens to the tape provides a picture of the whole topic on one sheet to use for revision later.
Create a pictorial symbol to go with each key point, quotation or chapter to help focus attention. It will also help stimulate memory when the map is re-visualised during the exam.
· With the text, blank question sheets and a pen and highlighters ready, switch on the tape. While listening to a play or novel it is helpful to follow the text.
· Stop the tape to write a point down on one of the question sheets, draw a symbol on the mind-map or highlight a quotation or passage in the text.
· Write ideas straight away a sheet for ‘random thoughts.’ However memorable it is, it will probably be forgotten unless it is written down!
· File revision sheets and mind-maps after every session – they will provide excellent last minute revision by triggering your memory.