Dyslexia, the Struggle is Real, Tips for Teaching your Struggling Reader to Love reading

Dyslexic, ADD/ADHD, and other genetic or neurological challenges to reading, can be frustrating to both parents, teachers, and students.  I have come up with some simple, practical tips to help you work with your student/child and encourage reading fluency.

Take it slow, but keep at it.
There is no benefit to stopping and starting.  Find a reading program you like, and use it continuously until you complete it, even if it takes two years to finish one semester’s worth of lessons.  If necessary repeat the same materials two years in a row, or use one kindergarten program for a year, then done another kindergarten program.  Take the time you need to assure reading is fun, and your student has success.

Read to your child, have others read to your child.
Read their science and history lessons out loud to them.  Have others, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, read fun books to them, even chapter books.  Read the Bible to them, and other character-building books.  Just read and read and read to them.
(Read for fun, pleasure, and learning.)

Don’t teach in frustration, it overwhelms the student.  Learning should be a positive experience for both the teacher and student.  (If the student is stressed or overwhelmed, they can NOT read, a dyslexic student has to be for both the teacher and able to relax and control their mind to stop the words, numbers, letters, shapes, etc.  from shifting.)

Do relaxing and brain focusing activities before reading.                                                                                             Deep breathing, Juggling, ball tossing activities, even stretching.  If your student is full of energy, have them get some of that energy out before starting calmer focusing activities.  I often have my kids run laps around the outside of our house.  Then we toss koosh balls and try to juggle.  Lastly, we take some slow deep breaths before we sit to read.


Make the words real to the reader.
The Davis Program, which is where I did my training years ago, uses modeling clay to do this. But, it can be done in many ways.  For each word your student needs to master, they need to create a mental image of that word.  They can do this by writing the word, drawing a picture of the word, and repeating the word and pointing to the picture.  Then they need to place that word in their mind, by placing the picture with the word in their mind.
I do recommend the use of the Davis Program, but once you learn it, you can adapt it to work for your student.  Once you have taught your student to practice mastering a word, they can do it on their own over and over and quickly master lots and lots of words.

Do NOT stress on phonics.
Some dyslexic students do use phonics, instead most master one word at a time.  As they master words, some dyslexic students will naturally grasp phonics concepts.  But as a rule phonics overwhelms them and causes them to lose focus.  So don’t keep saying, “sound it out.”

Take a break.
If your student is fumbling over words, especially words you thought they had already mastered, then they need a break.  For a dyslexic student to focus to read takes a lot more skill than the average reader.  It can be very tiring.  They will get a headache and may even need a nap if they spend too much time reading.

Have them write (copy).
Have them copy letters, numbers, shapes, words, sentences, paragraphs.  As they write the words even if they don’t know them, they imprint them on their minds.  After they copy the words, either have them read it to you, or you read it to them, depending on their ability.  I usually use words from our Bible lessons, verses, etc.

Leave things around for them to read.
Make lists, charts, recipes, anything, and leave it for them to find and read.  Write special notes for them and other people in your family. Especially, if they are very curious they won’t be able to not try and read it.

These are a few tips I have learned over the years.  I am sure there are many more.  I would encourage anyone with a child with any type of learning challenge, to research their condition.  There is lots of good advice out there.  Then make a plan and stick to it.  Remember, if you keep positive and keep encouraging them, they will want to learn.  Learning should never be an overwhelming or frustrating experience for a beginning reader.  Relax and take it slow.

From the desk of the Dyslexic mom, of Dyslexic Kids, who has been teaching dyslexic students for over 30 years.


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