In can be difficult to find ways to encourage your child to learn and grow if they are dyslexic and you yourself do not have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a pretty unique condition in that there are a number of ‘dyslexic’ characteristics that can determine whether or not your child has dyslexia, however all children learn in their own way so there may not be a set of rules that determine how your child perceives things and learns.
Every child is different so you cannot come up with a set ‘process’ for helping your child to learn, and as there appears to be a creative prevalence in dyslexic children, your child may be able to approach a problem from a different angle, or have a process for dealing with problems that you may have never thought of. It is important to remain open minded when trying to encourage your child to learn and to be patient, as the learning process in itself is difficult enough without adding adult frustration into the mix.
The different mindset of Dyslexia Because of how the brain has developed, people with dyslexia have a different mindset to those that do not have dyslexia, and so they learn in a different way. Certain aspects of learning are incredibly tedious and slow going for them, whereas in other aspects they may excel and even develop a talent in early on.
For example, many dyslexic children realise that they are creatively minded, meaning that their imagination and capacity for thinking outside the box is higher than that of non dyslexic children. The simple fact that they find piecing words and sentences together harder than the average child should not be a cause for concern in parents, as in time these concepts can be learnt. Thinking of the bigger picture, or thinking outside the social norm, however, is something that is not so easily taught. What Engages them Children have a fantastic capacity for knowledge, however they tend to get bored easily. Unless you find a way to captivate their attention, their willingness to learn will quickly fade away. This is even more so in the case of dyslexic children as it can be harder for them to process information in the same way as children who do not have dyslexia.
Try to think of at least three different ways in which you can get a message across. Some children learn more effectively by listening and then copying information, others need picture aids to help memory; others need an activity or a rhyme which will help them remember.
Try a variety of different methods and try to determine not only which one appears to work best, but also which ones your child reacts most positively to. Learning and memorising things quickly is not always the most important aspect of learning, but the journey one takes and the enjoyment your child will get out of the process of learning.
Exercises Again how you decide to help your child will be largely dependent on how your child learns. Once you’ve discovered their preferred method of learning, there is a wealth of information on the internet which gives you example exercises, lesson help and even ways to help your dyslexic child improve their reading and writing skills through the use of different coloured overlays or large print text.
Try to understand their frustration Put yourself in their shoes. Often when parents or older people try to explain something to a child or young person, on occasion they can use phrases like ‘It’s common sense’, ‘it is easy’ or ‘It shouldn’t take long’ and these can be very disconcerting for someone who is having trouble grasping a concept. Even worse is the knowledge that everybody else around you also seems to find the ‘lesson’ to be learnt as easy as it is supposed to be.
Try to use encouraging language as opposed to assuming that everybody should manage to solve a problem within a set time limit. Do not be surprised that your child may come to a conclusion a different way than is expected, as their dyslexia actually allows them to look at problems from a different angle. Enhance the idea that it is not the time it takes to learn a lesson, but the quality of the journey that led you to the answer.
If your child is still having difficulty, suggest moving onto another problem so that they can come back to the troubling issue later, with a fresh mind. This will not always work as children can be stubborn, so be prepared to continue working at the problem, even if a solution doesn’t seem within reach any time soon.
Above all else, be patient. Like with any learning process it will take time to get to grips with the basics and even though your child may appear to be a slow learner it is simply because his or her brain processes knowledge differently. In fact, given time, this differently processed knowledge could lead your child to greater, more creative things.
As a father to a pre-school age child, Mike James takes an avid interest in early years education and in particular, SEN teaching. He writes about his interests and experiences for Moon Hall College, a Sussex based specialist dyslexia school.