Dyslexia in the New Year: Trying to Stay Away from the "New School Year Blues"

August 08, 2014

It’s that time again.  Another summer slips away.  They just don’t make them like they used to.

Soon you will be bombarded soon by all of “top tips for having your child to have a great school year.”  They will be in all of the magazines and the evening news.

Even with the tips, that pit in your stomach will start to form with all of the concerns you have about 504 Plans, IEP’s, Common Core, and whatever else is lurking out there in school land.

So here are the tips you probably won’t see, specifically for children with a reading disability (dyslexia):

 

1)      Offer Front End help.  Dyslexia often involves a problem with “low frequency” words.  That means words that are not common are really tough for the child to independently read.  When your child brings home those dreadful worksheets, look them over with her.  Scan for the tough words.  They are the big ones that are more than one syllable.   Go over them quickly with your child so he isn’t laboring through it.  For example, if the sheet has the word “penguin” in a word problem, like “there were three penguins in the zoo” there is no gain in having your child read it as “pwagney” or however he reads it. Help him out on the front end.

2)      Too Much Pain, Very Little Gain.  No one likes to work at a level of frustration or at a point of overwhelming difficulty.  The fact of the matter is, too often the child with dyslexia is given work that is simply too difficult and over her head.  Look at the reading material.  If it is too difficult, then read it out loud to your child.  There is no gain in reading at one’s frustration level.

You might say, “If I read it out loud, how will she ever develop her skills?”  The answer is simple – no one learns to swim with the water over his head.  You have to be in comfortable waters.

 

3)      Don’t Beat Reading to Death.  There is a lot of tension in the house around the child not reading enough.  One secret.  Don’t beat it to death.  Set up a 20 minute period to do independent reading as a part of the nightly routine and stick with it.  Don’t nag, but make simple contingencies…”you give me a no attitude 20 minutes then you have earned your electronic time after homework.”  Simple.  Easy. It’s one way or the other.  Make it earned.  “You give and you get” messages rule.

 

4)      Find the Easy Level:  Picking up on the last point, if you set up an independent reading period (and you should), make sure that the reading conducted is at the child’s independent level that is the reading should not be tough sledding. The material should be in the child’s zone of competence.

 

5)      Keep the Heat Index Down:  The heat index rises in households across America at homework time.  Resolve to stay calm.  Deep breathe.  Get some fresh air.  Walk around the house.  Pour yourself a glass of wine.  Whatever. Turn down the heat.

Well there you have it.  The five pointers you won’t be seeing in the parenting magazines (but I am sticking by them).

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