By Wendy Andersen
HAVING a child with learning difficulties can be demanding and heartbreaking.
Basically it boils down to wanting to help as much as you can, while paining to see your child struggle with things that come so easily to others.
Being in a foreign school system can make the process seem even more daunting.
But there are loads of things you can do at home to help your dyslexic child.
Building self esteem
The first hurdle is explaining to your child what it means to be dyslexic.
Frequently remind your child that dyslexic students are as intelligent as their peers.
Their primary difficulty is often with linear thought, although gaining information from text and structuring their writing can be major factors.
They also usually have strengths in other areas such as lateral thinking and spoken communication… and they tend to prefer mind maps to lists.
Encourage your child by finding ways to help them utilise their strengths.
Use analogies to help understand dyslexia
Some parents use the ‘operating system analogy’ that some kids use PC software, while others use Apple.
Ultimately however, both do the same things, albeit with slightly different ways of going about it.
This will help them to see that they are as good as everyone else – and they just simply tackle tasks differently.
As clever as Einstein?
Another way to boost self esteem is by listing all the successful famous people with dyslexia – showing your child that this is not something that will limit their future.
By doing this they will quickly see how many stars and notaries – including Whoopi Goldberg, Orlando Bloom and Richard Branson – did well inspite of it. Check out http://www.dyslexia.com/famous.html
Finally there are loads of games, activities and tools to try at home. Here are some:
- Avoid shiny white paper with black text. Many specialists now recommend using pale coloured rather than white paper, and dark coloured pens instead of black or red. Opt for creamy yellow or pale coloured paper for school notebooks, and pens with blue ink. This applies to using computers too. Change the screen colours on PCs by going to: Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display/Appearance/ and click ‘Advanced’ and then under ‘Item’ select ‘Window’ and change to whichever colour you prefer. Click ‘Other’ to see the whole palette. Then click ‘Apply’ and you’re all set. For Macs, you need a free add-on: try either nocturne or screen shades.
- Use texture to make writing fun. Texture can help your child understand letters that are difficult on paper. Have your child write with anything other than pen and paper: use crayon, or a tray filled with sand or rice, write with glitter glue, foam, or food. Go over the word spelling it aloud as they write.
- Letter hopscotch: draw a traditional hopscotch board with chalk, but replace the numbers with letters. Call out the sound (not the name of the letter) they have to jump to. Play until the all of the letters are done and rewards the child each time he or she jumps into the correct box
- Left and right: easy, have your child look at the back of his/her left hand with thumb out. The left hand forms the letter L and the right hand doesn’t. A simple way for all kids with and without dyslexia for getting shoes on the correct foot is to simply draw arrows on the inner sole of the shoes. When the shoes are lined up correctly, the arrows will point towards each other, ready to be put on. Use tipp-ex for shoes with black soles. For dancing classes, put a blue bow on the left foot, pink on the right. Teachers can then shout instructions such as ‘left foot, blue foot forward’.
- B and D: an easy way to remember B and D is to look at the word bed. Have your child hold up his hands the left hand looks like a B the right hand a D.
- Another trick is to use the word order in the alphabet. C comes before D. So when you want to write a D, say the aphabet, start writing a C, then carry on into a D.