Supporting children who have dyslexia 

We would like to offer the following information for parents of children and young people who have dyslexia.

Below you will find information videos and resources for supporting your child at home.

Click on the sections below for activities, ideas and strategies.

Dyslexia strengths

People with dyslexia are often good at:

  • Seeing the bigger picture – they can often work out how things work
  • Problem solving – they often have to finds ways around any difficulties they may have
  • Being creative, including art, drawing, making things and music
  • Sport – physical activities
  • Using technology and understanding how it works and how to make it work for them
  • Being observant and making connections
  • Discussion, explanation and talking to others

There have been many successful and famous people with dyslexia who have changed the world including inventors, scientists, business people, actors, cooks, singers and artists. Some examples include Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Steven Spielberg and many more:

Holly Willoughby

Will Smith 

Keira Knightley

Things your child may find difficult

Dyslexia is a learning difference which mainly affects reading and writing skills. However, it does not only affect these skills. Dyslexia is actually about information processing. People with Dyslexia may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and literacy skills. Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills.

It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people show strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields.

  • Younger children can have trouble getting dressed (not knowing what to do first) you can lay their clothes out in order to help them
  • They might struggle to organise themselves e.g. homework, equipment
  • Not being sure of what they have to do for school work or homework
  • Struggling to listen and follow instructions, missing some steps out or appearing not to hear instructions
  • Struggling to remember information e.g. multiplication tables
  • Finding reading and spelling difficult
  • Finding copying difficult
  • Handwriting difficulties 
  • Remembering something one day, but then forgetting it the next

Dyslexia can also affect other areas:

  • Phonological processing; the ability to identify and say individual sounds in words. They may jumble sounds in words e.g. saying ‘hostipal’ for hospital or ‘pasgetti’ for spaghetti
  • Sequencing; knowing what order to do things in. They may confuse months of the year, days of week or have difficulty with today, tomorrow, yesterday
  • Working memory; being able to ‘hold on’ to information e.g. when doing sums in their head
  • The ability to name familiar items quickly e.g. numbers, letters, objects – they may have word finding difficulties or mix up words e.g. say window for door
  • Processing speed (their speed of working/thinking)
How to help your child with dyslexia

There is no single ‘right’ way to support your child at home.

Schools have given guidance for parents on how to complete work at home. Your change in role from parent/carer to teacher will be strange for both you and your children. Start by spending some time together completing some fun activities. Make the learning as hands-on and interactive as you can, with regular breaks to reduce tiredness and aid concentration.

A child or young person with dyslexia needs a boost to their self-confidence before they can learn to overcome their difficulties.  Your child may have already experienced failure and may feel that they don’t believe they are capable of learning. To re-establish self-confidence, we need to provide the opportunity to succeed and give praise for small achievements.

Most importantly, good mental health and wellbeing is crucial!  Where there are difficulties around tasks at home, please talk to your child’s school around any support or adjustments that might help.

  • Make it fun!
  • Little and often is best.
  • Be positive – give your child lots of praise.
  • If its not going well stop and change the activity.
  • If your child has difficulties with writing consider using other ways to record what they know, comic strips, pictures, diagrams, audio record a story or video them acting.
  • Keep activities short with a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • Keep a routine – make a timetable. Be realistic.
  • Don’t expect them to work all day! Be guided by your child.
  • It’s ok to revisit things that you have done before, it helps children to remember what they have learnt.
  • Be guided by your child’s interests and strengths e.g. if they prefer to look at pictures find images online or use computers and films for learning, if they like to listen, use audio books.
  • Remember, every day activities are opportunities for learning e.g. gardening and playing.
  • Use a ‘To do’ list or task chart so they can see what they need to do.
  • Encourage children to put things back in their place to avoid misplacing things to help them with their organisation skills. 
  • Home should be a place your child can relax. Don’t let school or homework become stressful, imagine yourself in their position and try to be as patient as possible.
  • Always give plenty of praise and tell your child you know how hard they are working.
  • It is very important to build self-esteem and confidence. Find your child’s strengths and encourage them in activities they enjoy/are good at e.g. sport, art, music etc.
Helping your child at home leaflet
Reading

Watch our video about how to support reading through multi-sensory learning.

This video aims to give information about multi sensory learning to support Dyslexic children who are learning at home.

Try to use seeing, saying and doing when you are learning to read new words.

If you are helping a child with Dyslexia to learn from home, here is some multisensory information to remember.

Audio books

Listening to audio books can help children keep an interest in stories even when they are reluctant to read.

They help a child develop key skills such as listening and concentration, and are a good introduction to new words and ways of using language.

Free audio books

Some audio book apps will highlight the text on screen as it is being read, which can help your child to identify words.

There are several websites that offer free audio books.

RNIB Bookshare is a free service which offers audio books or books in a screen reader-friendly format. Ask your school or college whether they have registered.

They often enjoy music/rhymes, TV/Films, e-books and listening to you read aloud.

Paired reading

Paired reading is a good way to help your child to read and enjoy books. Allow your child to choose a book they want to read and let them start reading. When they make a mistake give your child a few seconds to have a go, but then say the word yourself – this keeps the flow going.

Paired reading leaflet

If the book is too hard for your child, read the words together. Read at your child’s pace. Let your child decide on a signal they can give you when they want to carry on reading on their own.

If they make a mistake, say the word and then carry on reading together. You can switch from reading together to your child reading alone. Try to do this for 10 minutes every day – share the book together rather than ‘hear’ your child read.

At the end of a page or section, talk about what you’ve read together. Ask what might happen next and whether it reminds your child of another story or film.

Reading at home

  • Be a positive reading role model, let your child see you reading. Encourage other people in your house to read and try to enjoy reading.
  • Read to your child – discuss the story and characters afterwards
  • Share reading – when your child is reading, read the difficult words together
  • Play word games e.g. matching pairs, memory games and sequencing activities (e.g. cooking dinner, getting ready for bed, “what do we need to do first?”, “What comes next?”)

Technology 

e-readers

Many dyslexic people have found that reading apps for mobile phones, and ereaders, such as a Kindle, enable them to read for pleasure. An ordinary page of text can be split into several pages, and you can adjust the font type, size and spacing, and the brightness of the screen.

Screen readers

Screen readers are a type of software that convert text to speech, and are more suited to the older learner. Many are now available as free apps for smartphones and tablets, and have been included on some e-readers as standard.

This will read text out loud for them, so they can read on their own and don’t need an adult to help them to read.

Reading pens

Reading pens can be useful as they are easy to carry around, but they tend to be better for small pieces of text, or individual words.

Spelling

An Alphabet Arc

An Alphabet Arc is a multi-sensory tool that involves setting out 3D wooden,  plastic or magnetic letters in an arc. The curved layout and use of colours support visual memory.

Multi-sensory learning is important for all learners but can be particularly useful for learners with dyslexia.

Watch our video to find out more:

Alphabet arc

Activities carried out with these letters help to develop:

Knowledge of letter sounds and names;
Alphabetical order;
Sequencing skills;
Blending and segmenting skills for reading and spelling.

Alphabet Arc leaflet Alphabet Arc Activities

How to get started
Your child should be sitting in the middle of the arc with MN directly in front of them. 

Setting out the Alphabet Arc
There are different ways of doing this. At first, start by putting them out in order from a to z. You could also try setting out just the first half or just the second half. You could use a mat underneath to help at first if they find this difficult.

Your child should name each letter out loud as they put the letters out. 

Ask your child to touch and name each letter in alphabetical order. Use a timer to speed up responses but ensure that the letter is being touched as it is said – this is essential for multisensory input.

SOS Spelling

This stands for Simultaneous Oral Spelling.

SOS is a multi-sensory learning method. When the child uses the SOS method, they are using all sensory channels to learn how to spell new words.

SOS Spelling leaflet

How to get started
Set aside 10 minutes each day for helping your child with spelling.

The list of words you  want them to learn should be short – no more than 5 words.

You should practise spelling the same list of words for 3 days in a row.

It is a very easy method to use but you must ensure you don’t miss out any of the 6 steps.

It is important to follow the same routine every time you practice a word. You can use the task card on the last page of the leaflet to help you to remember the 6 steps.

Spelling games

Use flashcards or play matching games to let your child see the words lots of times – the more times they see the word, the better they will be able to read and spell it.

Find smaller words in the bigger word, for example ‘there is a hen in when’

Write words in different coloured pens to make a rainbow or in shaving foam, flour or sand over and over again to help your child remember them

Writing

Fine motor skills video

In this video you will find out about how to help your child if they have difficulties with handwriting.

It looks at ways you can help your child to improve their fine motor skills.

Below you will find ideas and resources for how to help your child with writing tasks.

Touch typing

If you have access to a computer, you might want to consider using this to teach your child to touch type.

It reduces the need for handwriting which can often be challenging for those with dyslexia.

Touch typing leaflet

When typing you become used to the pattern of letters. This muscle memory helps with common letter combinations.

Once touch typing becomes an automatic skill, it is much easier to concentrate on the creative aspects of writing.

Use programmes that are games-based to introduce your child to touch typing.

There are a number of programmes that can be accessed for free (see the leaflet for links).

BBC Dance Mat Typing Big Brown Bear Kidz type.com Doorway online

Writing actvities

Keep to short timed sessions so your child is able to maintain concentration without becoming bored or uncomfortable.

Whenever possible make it fun and multi-sensory!

Help your child to get ideas down on paper

  • Bullet points – they can build on these to make them into sentences and paragraphs
  • Timeline – to help with putting ideas into the right order
  • Write ideas on Post-It notes – great for ‘hands-on’ learners and these can be ‘moved around’ to organise ideas
  • Mobile phone – record ideas verbally and write or type up afterwards
  • Mind maps are a great way of generating ideas and organising information in a visual way
  • These can then be used to organise and structure writing and organise assignment work or projects
Memory

Supporting memory difficulties

Lots of young people with dyslexia have memory difficulties.

This video explains why they might have memory difficulties and how you can support your child with remembering things they have learnt. It is important to repeat learning and think about different ways you can remember new learning.

Below are some simple strategies to help with memory difficulties.

Chunking

Place all similar pieces of information into one group – for example, if your child is studying the geography of a country get him/her to make a chunk of all the facts relating to climate. Students should be able to chunk at least four items together so they need to find at least four items that have a strong connection.

Visualise

Remembering information will be easier if they can use all their senses when learning. This means creating a visual image in their mind and for some learners this is very important. Using a picture or a symbol can help to strengthen the memory.

Make connections

It is important that children with dyslexia make connections when learning. This makes learning meaningful and helps with understanding. An effective learner is one who is able to make these connections. The main connection is between previous learning and new learning. Encourage your child to think about whether there is anything about the new learning that is familiar? What is familiar and why? This will help your child to connect between the previous and new learning and make learning more effective.

Imagination

It is a good idea to get them to use imaginative images or connections as these can stamp a personal identity on the information to be remembered.

By using their own images children can make it personal and this can help them to remember.

Repetition

It is unusual to remember information first time around. But rote repetition is not always effective. When getting children to repeat information try to suggest a range of different ways. They can do this by using memory cards, visuals, headings, summaries, notes and discussion. All these can be used for repeating the same information. Children with dyslexia need a lot of over-learning before they can consolidate new material.

Discussion

For some learners with dyslexia, discussion is the only way in which they can remember and understand information. Discussion can make the information more meaningful and can help them experiment with ideas and views. It is this experimentation that helps the, to extend their thinking and learning. For some children discussion can be like thinking aloud and this should be encouraged.

How to support learning at home

|   Overlearning and chunking

Children with dyslexia often require additional time to develop automaticity in any skill, but particularly in literacy. 

This means that they need more practice and repetition to be able to complete reading and spelling tasks automatically, without lots of thought and effort. 

How to support learning

Automaticity can be acquired through overlearning and breaking learning into small bite-sized chunks. It is important that this is not seen as rote repetition of the material to be learned, but make sure that overlearning provides a good opportunity to use a range of materials and a variety of techniques.  There are a considerable number of games and ‘fun type’ activities available that can help to vary the learning experiences and promote automaticity (see links in the leaflet).

|   Routines

Children find it reassuring to have a routine and this can be important for children with dyslexia. It may be helpful to continue with your usual pattern, for example working during the week and having time off from school work at the weekend. 

It may also be useful to set up an area in your house for doing school work if possible and have a clear structure to the day, including frequent break times. 

|   Visual planning

Create a timetable for the day and where possible use a visual planner. A visual structure will be helpful for many children with dyslexia. These visuals will help them understand where they are in the week and the tasks they have to complete.

Older children may prefer to use tick lists, post it notes or white boards to structure the day or to sequence small work tasks.

|   Multi-sensory Learning

This way of learning makes links between the visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinaesthetic (movement) and tactile (touching/feeling) senses. A link involves using at least two of the senses at any one time. It gives learners a way to do, play, act and discover and will help your child to make meaningful links in their learning.

Visual Learning Techniques:

  • Pictures
  • Mind maps
  • Posters
  • Charts and diagrams
  • Symbols
  • Videos
  • Posi-it notes

Auditory Learning Techniques:

  • Recording ideas
  • Saying ideas to someone else
  • Discussion
  • Music, raps and rhymes
  • Clapping rhythms
  • Audio books
  • Clips from videos/DVDs

Kinaesthetic/Tactile Techniques:

  • Practical/creative activities
  • Create pictures, diagrams and mind maps
  • Experiments
  • Note-taking
  • Making models
  • Movement and dance

|   Keep it fun!

It doesn’t have to just be about reading and spelling. Take the opportunity to plan a variety of activities for your child. Exercise, life skills, board games, creative activities and online socialising with family and friends are equally important and provide opportunities to learn and ensure well-being.

Include reading into everyday activities by encouraging your child to read information on items such as board games/toys, food packaging, street signs, supermarket signs and recipes etc.

Give plenty of praise and let your child know that you realise how hard they are trying. Be ready to give help when they need it. Try giving hints at first to help, such as “what is the first sound?” Always stop for a break when your child is showing signs that they have had enough.

Strategies to support learning activities

Visual Prompts and Checklists

Why do they work?

Remembering things that have been said to you is not a reliable way for some of us to recall important elements of a task. Words disappear! Visual prompts support with this. Picture prompts are better so as not to make the task too difficult with the addition of words. Pictures and symbols communicate more quickly and easily than written words.

Visual prompts in action…

Jack was always missing spaces between words in his written work. His teacher printed a large visual prompt to support him. After a couple of sessions, he began to use spaces without having to be reminded by his teacher. He still used his visual prompt for some time after this to help him remember to use spaces between words.

There are lots of free downloadable visual prompts including support for leaving spaces between words like these:

Link

Getting to know new texts

Why does it work?

When approaching a new reading text, your child can lack fluency and have difficulty with the context. This means that they may not be able to predict unknown words or use a variety of cues. This can be down to reliance on phonics when reading, difficulties with speech and language or lack of exposure to vocabulary. Aim to spend some time before any reading activity cueing your child into the text context. This could include reading and discussing the title, thought-storming associations and possible meanings, analysing pictures and sub-headings and making predictions as to what the text will contain. It is useful to look at the illustrations from beginning to end to see the ‘whole story’ and provide contexts. All of these will ensure that your child has some clues about the text before reading it and they will then be more able to use a variety of cues and strategies when reading.

Getting to know new texts in action …

Julie enjoys stories but relies on decoding unfamiliar words as her only strategy. This is affecting her fluency and comprehension, particularly with a new text. Once Julie is more familiar with the content, she is able to answer questions and use contextual cues to support her reading. Julie was taught to look at the title and front cover, then look through the illustrations in order from beginning to end before attempting to read the book. She then spent a few minutes with an adult discussing predictions and tricky vocabulary. Julie has found that this increases her ability to understand what she reads and that she is reading more fluently.

The following website offers tips and advice for reading with children of a variety of ages:

Link

Sequencing Images

Why do they work?

The ability to sequence events in text is important in developing your child’s understanding of what they are reading. Sequencing refers to the identification of the parts of a story, such as the beginning, middle and end. It also means being able to retell the events of a story in the correct order. This supports understanding and the ability to place the details of events within some larger context such as the beginning, middle and end of a story. Ordering of events in a story along with connecting words such as, ‘then, later’ and ‘afterwards’ supports children to be able to think of a text in pieces rather than one large chunk. Sequencing is a skill that can be incorporated into any subject area.

Sequencing Images in action …

Katie was having difficulties retelling a story. She tended to start with the end, possibly because it was the part of the story that she had read or heard most recently. Practising sequencing the key events within a story helped her to understand what she had read.  She was helped to recognise the important parts of the story and so was able to retell the story. This also helped Katie when writing stories as she had been given opportunities to investigate examine the make-up of a story.

Sequencing exercises can be found on-line such as those at:

Link

Vocabulary/Word Banks organised by linked concepts

Why do they work?

Vocabulary banks are a helpful way to scaffold you child’s learning. Many children and young people need over-exposure to individual words, as well as the context for their use. Word banks, organised by concept development, can be helpful for children who need support in understanding links and connections within a subject. In order for a child to effectively learn vocabulary they also need to learn the relationship between the spoken and the written word as well as the concepts they represent.

Did you know you can make your own word banks online? Just search for blank or editable word banks.

Vocabulary banks in action…

Hassan found Science confusing. There were lots of words used where he only had an approximate understanding of their use and this made it difficult to link concepts together. He was given the opportunity to make vocabulary banks for the Science topic vocabulary that he encountered difficulties with. This strategy allowed him to learn new vocabulary and concepts by using a format to create flashcards. These flashcards enabled Hassan to research the meaning of the word, make links through visual cues and find other words linked to the concept.

Personalised Dictionaries

Why do they work?

Your child is encouraged to take control of their own learning through the development of their own dictionary. This could help them with learning new vocabulary, to help them learn the spelling of a word or both. Your child can choose which words to add. These may be ones that they recognise that they find difficult.

Personalised Dictionaries in action …

Jake found remembering topic vocabulary challenging. He was encouraged to keep a record of new words that he had learnt. Jake wrote the words in his dictionary under each of topic headings and drew pictures where they might help him to remember what the words meant.  It took time for Jake to build up his dictionary and sometimes needed reminders to use his dictionary. It soon became something that he could use independently.

Marking for success

Why does it work?

Some children can become very demotivated when marking spellings or having them corrected in their writing. Marking for success is a positive method of correcting spellings. Tick every letter that is correct in a word and leave the incorrect letters blank.

Your child will respond well when they see the ticks and they realise that the whole word is not wrong.  Often, they can also self-correct the spelling themselves.

Marking for success in action …

Keshia is having difficulties spelling high frequency words and often spells them incorrectly in her independent writing. In spelling tests, Keshia mostly spells them correctly but the teacher feels this is not transferred into her independent writing. Instead of highlighting every incorrect spelling in a piece of writing, the class teacher chose to target three words that Keshia spelt correctly in previous tests. She highlights the chosen words and then ticks the correct letters, marking for success. Keshia then returns to the piece and independently attempts to correct the spelling. If she is unable to do this, the teacher supports her, or she uses a dictionary.

Cloze Procedures

What are cloze procedures?

Cloze procedures are reading comprehension activities where blank spaces in a text are filled in. A passage of text has missing words that need to be filled in from a list of words. Your child must think about what word fits in a blank space, so the passage makes sense. Your child will learn about a topic whilst being helped with their reading.

My name is Neptune I am ______ in colour
I’m the ______ planet from the sun
I have too many storms in my atmosphere
And I’m the furthest planet from the _____

furthest   sun   blue

Cloze Procedures in action…

Jen and Clare were several lessons into their science topic on space and had already been supported with pictures to help them learn new vocabulary about space.  They were given a cloze procedure which missed out some of the names of the planets and used their pictures to discuss possibilities and fill the gaps.

Search for free cloze procedures resources such as those found at:

Link

Wider Lines/ Squares

Why do they work?

Some children might find it extremely difficult to keep within the lines on narrow lined paper or small squared paper. Where possible, give your child the option of wide lined paper or larger squares. This can have a very positive impact on handwriting and presentation of work and on your child’s self-esteem.

Did you know that wide lined paper can be printed directly from the internet, just search for ‘wide line paper’

Despite forming letters correctly, Ali’s handwriting is large and therefore her presentation can look quite messy. The teacher has tried plain paper, but without the organisation of lines, one of her work merges into another. Using wider lines and larger squares, means that Ali is supported to have more space for her writing. This means that her work appears neater and Ali and the teacher can read back what she has written. She now enjoys sharing her work with others.

Checking text readability

 Why does it work?

Readability needs to be considered when giving your child a book to read.  Readability means how easily a reader can understand their book. For example, if your child makes more than 5 errors when they are reading a piece of roughly 100 words, their understanding of what they have read is likely to be not enough. Reading accuracy is how accurately your child can read the passages in their book.  Your child may be reading the words in their book accurately but may need support in understanding what they have read. We need to think of this when helping children choose books.

Find out more about this support for finding ‘just right’ books:

Link

Checking text readability in action …

During independent reading time, Zain always seemed quite distracted and appeared to change his book frequently. He would not talk about his book or complete his book reviews. During one session, the class teacher sat with Zain to read with him and found that he was choosing books that were too hard. The teacher chose a different book and asked Zain to read short passages. They found one that he enjoyed, where he made less than 5 errors on the first page [roughly 100 words] and he was able to read confidently. Zain read the whole book independently and was keen to share his thoughts on it with the teacher. Zain was taught to check each book he chose to see whether he made more than five errors on the first page.

Using technology to support your child's learning.

Using technology

Thoughtful use of technology can be very effective for children  who have dyslexia. Strategies include:

  • Using tablet devices, word processors and AlphaSmarts to provide an alternative way to record information.
  • Using dyslexia friendly font for activity sheets and reading materials including large font size, comic sans, sassoon and coloured backgrounds
  • Using electronic spell checkers and word banks through literacy programmes, such as Clicker Apps.
  • Reading pens can be useful as they are easy to carry around, but they tend to be better for small pieces of text, or individual words.
  • E-readers such as Kindle can help to children with dyslexia to read for pleasure because they can change the size and colour of the text to help them to read.
Useful websites and links

Please note we are not responsible for the content of external sites.
Please check the contents is suitable before sharing them with your child.

The following websites are currently free and available to support home learning:

For further information please visit the local offer website: