As parents and teachers, we have an incredible responsibility to raise our children to the best of our ability, striving to provide the best opportunities for their futures. Genes and past childhood experiences are things that can’t be changed, but if you suspect or know your child has dyslexia there are three factors moving forward that you will have some control over.
1. First, you can select a reading program that is in line with what current research has found is best practice for students with dyslexia. These types of reading programs are Orton Gillingham based (also known as structured literacy) and are simultaneously multi-sensory, explicit, cumulative, and diagnostic in nature.
2. Second, you can support your children by ensuring they are treated fairly and with understanding by other adults in their life. This falls along the adage that fair does not always mean equal. In other words, ensure that children are challenged and held to high expectations but also supported. There are many simple accommodations that can be used so children are able to access materials and curriculum at their age level. There are also many technology tools that offer great benefits for children with dyslexia. One tool that is absolutely necessary when children are reading well below their grade level is audiobooks. When children can listen to books they get the benefit of learning new content, improving comprehension, and making new connections. Accommodations have the power to turn something frustrating into something that is engaging.
3. Third, you must take into consideration strengths and interests. Where there is a weakness, such as dyslexia, there will also be strengths. Strengths must not be ignored. Often children need help finding out what their strengths are. They also need help developing their interests, skills and talents. Many people with dyslexia show natural strengths in critical thinking skills, the arts, athletic ability, musical aptitude, being empathetic, having great people skills, showing leadership qualities, mechanical skills, and more. Make sure children are aware of their strengths and have avenues to pursue interests and activities they enjoy so they can experience success.
Parents and teachers can change the entire trajectory of a child’s life by giving their children the gift of these three important factors. When these three factors are dialed in, the results are often very apparent. Children will show improved self-confidence, increased independence, willingness to learn, and improved skills.