helping children and teens with dyslexia

Five ways to help your dyslexic child

Dyslexia is in the spotlight this week, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealing he has the condition.

Meanwhile the Times Educational Supplement reports that a third of local authorities face a shortage of specialist dyslexia teachers.

But there’s another reason behind the publicity currently surrounding this learning difficulty. It’s Dyslexia Awareness Week, and Thursday 4th October was World Dyslexia Awareness Day. We’re marking the occasion with a look at what dyslexia is, and explaining how parents can help build children’s and teenagers’ confidence.

What is dyslexia?

This term is bandied around widely, but actually dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty. It mainly affects the skills involved in accurate, fluent word reading and spelling, and occurs across the full range of intellectual abilities.

Dyslexic people may struggle to understand written information, and may also find it hard to deal with a sequence of instructions, or find planning and organisation difficult.

According to the NHS, around 1 in 10 of us is dyslexic to some degree.

If you happen to be dyslexic, you are in good company! Famous dyslexics include entrepreneur Richard Branson and the biggest brain of all, Albert Einstein. Equally, those with dyslexia often excel in areas such as problem solving and creative thinking.

how to help dyslexic children

How can I help my dyslexic child?

An initial diagnosis can feel bewildering, yet there’s no reason your child can’t shine given the right support. Generally speaking, most dyslexic pupils can thrive in a mainstream school, although a minority with severe dyslexic tendencies may benefit from attending a specialist school.

  • Understand the assessment process: Speak in the first instance to the school’s Support for Learning (SfL – in Scotland) teacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO – in England) or your child’s class teacher. If problems persist, request a more detailed assessment from a specialist dyslexia teacher or educational psychologist. Support may involve one-to-one or small group sessions, specialist learning techniques such as phonics, or use of speech recognition software or similar technology. Work closely with the school – you may have to push for extra help.


  • Talk to your child about their dyslexia: Be as open as possible, and explain to your son or daughter how the difficulty may affect them, and how you’ll face the challenges together. Be positive, and stress what your child does well. Keep the conversation going afterwards, making time to chat, ask open questions and listen carefully to the responses to understand how your child is coping.


  • Read to your child: Do this as often as you can – to enhance vocabulary, to pass on a love of books, and to give your child the chance to hear words correctly pronounced and see them on the page. Make this a no-pressure, relaxed activity. For younger children, nursery rhymes, memory games and tapping out a rhythm are useful.


  • Organising schoolwork: Organisation can be harder for dyslexic children. Help break down bigger tasks into smaller chunks, and devise a system for keeping tabs on schoolwork, perhaps with colour-coded folders, a large calendar with assignment due dates, or smartphone alerts for older children.


  • Spell with your child: Set aside 10 minutes a day to go through spelling. The Simultaneous Oral Spelling (SOS) method, devised by Oxford’s Dr Lynette Bradley, is a proven multi-sensory system using visual, auditory and movement channels to learn the spelling of a new word.

Finally, celebrate even minor successes and praise your child regularly. Be patient and don’t expect perfection, but be positive and firm. Equally, ensure your child participates in activities other than studying (such as sport, art, drama or music), so they are not defined by their dyslexia.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.