If you’re a parent or teacher on the hunt for dyslexia strategies for kids, this post has lots of ideas to help. While dyslexia isn’t typically diagnosed until kids start school, early intervention is key, and there are some common traits parents can look out for to ensure they are supporting their kids as best as they can. We’ve included a list of symptoms by age range below, as well as tips and tricks to help you think outside the box and find ways to help your little one excel despite their challenges.
What Is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult to read. A person with dyslexia will often read slowly and with mistakes, making it difficult for them to comprehend the material they are reading. Dyslexia can have a negative impact on a child’s spelling, writing, and math skills, and can also impact a child socially and emotionally and lead to low self-esteem.
It’s important to note that dyslexia isn’t an intellectual problem. It’s a learning challenge. People with dyslexia are just as bright as their peers, but struggle to read fluently. Dyslexia doesn’t improve with age per se, but there are lots of great dyslexia strategies for kids and adults which can help.
31 Signs & Symptoms of Dyslexia
The signs of dyslexia may not be noticeable until your child starts school, and his or her teacher may be the first to notice. Signs and symptoms can vary, however there are some common traits and behaviors to look out for, as outlined below.
- Difficulty learning/remembering sequences (i.e. the alphabet)
- Difficulty with rhyming patterns (i.e. nursery rhymes, song lyrics that rhyme, etc.)
- Mispronouncing words and/or using baby talk
KINDERGARTEN TO FIRST GRADE
- Difficulty learning letter names and their associated sounds
- Confusing letters that look similar (i.e. b and d)
- Confusing letters that sound similar (i.e. d and t)
- Difficulty sounding out words/blending sounds together to make words
- Difficulty with spelling rules
- Difficulty reading common words (i.e. dog), especially in the absence of pictures
- Complaining that reading is ‘hard’
- Difficulty sounding out new words
- Taking longer to learn how to read then peers
- Reading slowly/awkwardly
- Confusing words that sound similar
- Difficulty recognizing sight words
- Skipping words when reading out loud
- Frequently reversing letters
- Poor spelling skills
- Using general and vague words like ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ for familiar objects
- Mispronouncing words that are long/complicated
- Difficulty answering questions about a story they’ve read
TWEEN TO ADULT
- Slow reader
- Doesn’t read for pleasure
- Difficulty with reading assignments
- Better able to answer reading comprehension questions if material is read out loud to them
- Difficulty with multiple choice tests
- Leaving out words when reading out loud
- Saying ‘umm’ a lot
- Mispronouncing names/places frequently
- Difficulty remembering abbreviations
- Difficulty with idioms and puns
10 Dyslexia Strategies for Kids
1. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
If you’re looking for dyslexia strategies for kids, a great first step is to ensure your child is working in a calm and quiet environment. For younger kids, choose an area within close proximity to you so you can keep your child on task and intervene when needed. For older kids, make sure to remove distractions like email and social media. Noise cancelling headphones are a great option, especially if your child struggles to focus at school.
2. TAKE REGULAR BRAIN BREAKS
Brain breaks are designed to provide the sensory input a child needs to stay alert and focused and in control of his or her emotions. These breaks are especially important for children with learning and developmental challenges, but regular movement breaks can benefit all kids. By giving their brains a rest and allowing them to engage in a few minutes of physical activity to get their wiggles out, you’ll likely notice improved attention and focus, increased retention of material being learned, improved emotional regulation, reduced behavioral problems, improved gross motor skills, increased motivation, increased inclusion and cooperation, etc. If you’re looking for dyslexia strategies for kids, CLICK HERE for some of our favorite sensory break ideas!
3. RECORD CLASSES/LECTURES
Since reading can be tricky for people with dyslexia, they are often better able to understand and answer questions about material that is read out loud to them. If your child’s teacher is receptive to the idea of being recorded, a small voice recorder can do wonders for your child academically. You may also consider recording any material he or she needs to learn from a textbook if this proves helpful.
4. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS AND PODCASTS
This is kind of an extension of the idea above, but it’s worth repeating. Given that dyslexia makes reading challenging, considering purchasing an audiobook and podcast subscription for your child. Audiobooks will be helpful when reading novels for school, and since kids with dyslexia don’t tend to read for pleasure, it’s a great alternative. Podcasts can be a great source of information, exposing your child to topics of interest he or she may otherwise never discover.
5. USE A RULER WHEN READING
Using a ruler or something with a straight edge is a great way to help kids stay focused while they are reading. It keeps their eyes from wandering around the page, allowing them to really hone in on the text they are trying to read. If you’re looking for dyslexia strategies for kids, give this a try!
6. USE A COMPUTER INSTEAD OF WRITING BY HAND
Since writing and spelling can both be challenging for kids with dyslexia, allowing them to type their assignments can be extremely helpful. Using a program like Microsoft Word will give them prompts when they’ve spelled a word incorrectly and/or used incorrect grammar so they can make corrections along the way. This will allow them to focus on the assignment itself rather than getting bogged down with the things they struggle with.
7. USE TEXT-TO-SPEECH / SPEECH-TO-TEXT APPS
If your child struggles to read and/or write, do a quick search in the App Store on his or her tablet or phone for a text-to-speech and/or speech-to-text app. This will allow them to take in information and/or express their thoughts quickly and with less frustration.
8. ALLOW CLASSROOM ACCOMMODATIONS
If you’re looking for dyslexia strategies for kids in the classroom, consider the individual struggles your child faces and how they can be accommodated.
- Allow extra time for tests
- Make sure the environment is free of distractions
- Provide verbal instructions
- Allow the child to answer questions verbally
- Look beyond the details (spelling, etc.) and grade the child on concepts learned
9. DO NOT MAKE A CHILD READ OUT LOUD
While dyslexia is not an intellectual problem, it can still lead to poor self-esteem when a child struggles to do things their peers seemingly do with ease. If you’re looking for dyslexia strategies for kids, you may think that giving them opportunities to practice the things they struggle with is important, and while this may be the case in some instances, make sure to read the room. Practicing in a safe environment is one thing. Putting them on the spot in a room full of kids is something else entirely.
10. ALLOW EXEMPTIONS FROM LEARNING OTHER LANGUAGES
My final tip for those who are looking for dyslexia strategies for kids is to ensure they are exempt from learning other languages in school. While it is often a requirement for kids to learn a second language during elementary and middle school, this can be a nightmare for a child who is already struggling to learn how to read and write in his or her mother tongue.
If you’re the parent or caregiver of a child with dyslexia, I hope this collection of dyslexia strategies for kids proves useful to you. While practice certainly makes progress, thinking outside of the box and finding new and innovative ways to build on your child’s strengths is key to helping him or her thrive.