Build Literacy Skills with Children with Dyslexia

** This is a guest post, written by contributor Jenny Holt.

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Between 5 and 11 percent of American students have dyslexia, according to a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal. Parents and guardians of dyslexic children must therefore know how to help their kids build literacy skills. As you may already know, dyslexia is a language-based disability. Luckily, there is so much that may be done to help children with dyslexia develop a love of literacy. Kids just need love, patience, and the right learning tools, such as audiobooks and flashcards.  

Bring special learning tools into the mix

Any amount of reading to your child will be helpful for improving their literacy skills. Your child will be able to enjoy stories, even if their dyslexia makes it hard for them to read independently. Some parents obtain books from local libraries, while others build their own permanent collections of children's books through things like subscription box services. With subscription box services, books are delivered at prearranged intervals, and the books added to each box are typically well-curated to ensure that they are educational and age-appropriate.

Dyslexic children also benefit from specialized therapy, which might include listening to audiobooks. If your child is in school, you may be able to find audiobooks of class books, which help your child to understand class material without reading. Flashcards and certain forms of technology, such as smartphones and personal computers (if children are old enough to use them), may also assist children with this learning disability. For example, tech hardware may make it possible to access electronic flashcards. Helping your child to practice printing and handwriting will also enhance their literacy skills and can even be therapeutic. 

Obtaining a formal diagnosis for your child

Children with dyslexia often have trouble learning how to read. When dyslexia is present, a child will have difficulty reading rapidly and effortlessly. The child may also find it hard to retrieve spoken words. However, a child with dyslexia will still be able to be creative and inventive. If you suspect your child has dyslexia, you need to know for sure. This means obtaining a formal diagnosis either by evaluation at their school or privately.

The rationale behind getting a formal diagnosis for your child is that American schools are legally mandated to assist children who have dyslexia. So, a confirmed diagnosis of dyslexia will lead to specialized teaching for your child that aligns with their specific abilities. Of course, knowing what's going on with your child will also give you peace of mind, because you won't have to be so concerned about their learning level in comparison to other children.

For more information on Dyslexia, from a Certified Academic Language Therapist, read more here.

Visit the special needs teacher at your child's school

Building a positive relationship with the special needs teacher at your child's school will be very important. Parents and educators need to work together to support literacy in children who have dyslexia. Whether you want a special needs teacher to evaluate your child because you suspect dyslexia or you have a formal diagnosis already, you'll find that building rapport with a special needs teacher will help your child. This type of teacher will provide guidance, education, and support, and make certain that educators at the school understand your child's challenges.

Now that you know some practical ways to support the literacy of a child with dyslexia, you'll have a game plan that is to your child's educational benefit. Just remember to offer lots of hugs and kind words along the way. You'll need patience, but your patience will pay off.

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**Editor's Note: This post was written by Certified Academic Language Therapist, Denise Emert. She is an interventionist in the Marshfield Schools in Missouri, and has been teaching in public…

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