Monday, October 29, 2012

Let's Talk about Dyslexia: Providing Emotional Support

Children who have dyslexia may need emotional support for the many challenges they face.  Offer your child encouragement.   How?

Teach through and focus on your child’s areas of strength.  If your child understands more when listening, let him or her learn new information by listening to an audio book or watching a DVD.  If possible, follow up with the same story in written form. 

Respect and challenge your child’s natural intelligence. Most children with dyslexia have average or above-average intelligence that can be challenged by parents who encourage their intellectual growth.  

Be honest with your child about his or her learning differences.  Explain it in understandable and age-appropriate examples and terms while offering unconditional love and support.

Teach your child to persevere. You can model, through good-humored acceptance of your own mistakes, that mistakes can help you find solutions.

Recognize your child’s unique challenges. There may be some things your child will always struggle with more than others do.  Help your child understand that this does not mean he or she is a failure.

Don’t expect perfection.  Squabbling with your child over schoolwork will create an unhealthy relationship and emphasize your child’s failures.


Let's Talk about Dyslexia - How to Help your Child

You can be a positive force in your child’s education.  How?
Read to your child.  Find time to read to your child every day.  Point to the words as you read.  Draw attention to words that you run across in daily life, such as traffic signs, billboards, notices, and labels. 

Be a good role model.  Show your child how important reading is to daily life.   Make books, magazines, and other reading materials available for your child to explore and enjoy independently.

Focus on the sounds within words (phonemes). Play rhyming games, sing songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, sound out letters, play word games, and point out similarities in words.

Encourage reading fluency.  Have your child read a short passage several time while you record the time it takes.  Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time, and the repetition helps establish fluency.

Work on spelling.  Point out new words, play spelling games, and encourage your child to write.

Help with time and planning.  Hand up simple charts, clocks, and calendars, so that your child can visualize time and plan for the future.

Share in the joy of reading.  Find books that your child can read but that you will also enjoy.  Sit together, take turns reading, and encourage discussion.  Revisiting words that cause trouble for your child and rereading stories are powerful tools to reinforce learning.

Read, read, read.  Read to and with your child.  This can make a positive difference in learning basic reading skills.


Let’s Talk About Dyslexia - Symptoms

Dyslexia is a learning challenge that makes it hard to read, write, and spell.  Experts don’t know for sure what causes dyslexia, but it often runs in families. 

What are the symptoms?

Signs of dyslexia in children who are too young for school include:
  • Talking later than expected
  • Being slow to learn new words.
  •   Problems rhyming
  •  Problems following directions that have many steps.

After a child begins school, the signs of dyslexia include:
  • Problems reading single words, such as a word on a flash card.
  • Problems linking letters with sounds.
  • Confusing small words, such as “at” and “to”.
  • Reversing the shapes of written letters such as “d” for “b”.  For example, the child may write “dat” for “bat”.
  • Writing words backwards, such as “tip” for “pit”.

If your child has one of these signs, it does not mean that he or she has dyslexia.  Many children reverse letters before age 7.  But if your child has several signs, and reading problems, or if there is a family history of dyslexia, you may want to have your
child checked.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reminder to have Vision Checked!

Just a reminder today from Aneta Coulter (thanks Aneta!) about the importance of checking children's vision. This is something that we like to bring up each Autumn, as those who learn at home don't get their vision checked automatically - something that happens in kindergarten in a campus school. Vision is something that can have a major impact on learning.  A good developmental optometrist is the first stop for any child who is struggling with reading.  Talk to your LS consultant to find one near your families. 

Aneta found this story as an added inspiration.

Building a Brain House

Ruth’s Reflections #2 - Building a Brain House
The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
Richard C. Anderson, “Becoming a Nation of Readers”

It is a very rare child who becomes a reader, who wasn’t read to by someone special in early life.  How can something so simple as reading aloud to a child be so effective?

Let’s start with the brain. 

As cement and lumber are the primary supports for building a house, words are the primary structure for learning.  There are only two effective ways to get words into a person’s brain: either through the eye or through the ear.  What we send into the ear becomes the “sound” foundation for the rest of the child’s “brain house”. 

Reading aloud:
  • Conditions the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure.
  • Creates background knowledge.
  • Builds vocabulary.
  • Provides a reading role model.

Cushla’s Story
In Cushla and Her Books author Dorothy Butler described how Cushla Yeoman’s parents began reading aloud to her when she was four months old.  By nine months, she was able to respond to the sight of certain books and convey to her parents that these were her favorites.  By age five, she had taught herself to read.

What makes Cushla’s story so dramatic is that she was born with chromosome damage that caused deformities of the spleen, kidney, and mouth cavity.  It also produced muscle spasm which prevented her from sleeping more than two hours a night or from holding anything in her hand until she was three years old.  She also had lazy vision beyond her fingertips.

Until she was three, the doctors diagnosed Cushla as “mentally and physically retarded” and recommended that she be institutionalized.  Her parents, after seeing her early responses to books, refused; instead, they put her on a dose of fourteen read-aloud books a day.  By age five, Cushla was found to be well above average in intelligence, and a socially well-adjusted child.
It’s not the toys in the house that make the difference in children’s lives; it’s the words in their heads.

The least expensive thing we can give a child outside of a hug turns out to be the most valuable: words.

Keep up the fantastic job you are doing in building children’s “brain houses”.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Importance of Reading to Your Child

We are going to have a new voice on the blog over the next few months.  Ruth is an experience SE teacher and leader and she will be brining us some thoughts and tips on how to work with your exceptional child at home. Thanks Ruth!

Ruth's Reflections:

Few children learn to read books by themselves.  Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.
Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children

Did you know...

  • ·      Reading to children is important.
  • ·      Reading a bedtime story teaches a child something.
  • ·      Reading to a child is important, even after the child is beyond kindergarten.


·      Because the problems a child experiences when learning to read are often not related to the child’s ability to learn, but to his/her phonological awareness; the ability to “hear” the English language and an exposure to the English alphabet.

·      Because children who have not been read to before they are of school age may not have experienced listening to rhythms and sounds.  Once their ears “hear” those sounds, children are prepared to learn to read.

·      Because a failure to notice that spoken words can be broken into phonemes is a major cause of a profound reading disability.

·      Phonological awareness is the ability to hear individual sounds that make up words in spoken language.  It is the bridge that allows us to “see” spoken language as a collection of words and sounds.  For example

Ø  Hearing the sounds that make up words (the sounds d-o-g in dog)
Ø  Recognizing words that rhyme (ball, fall, call)
Ø  Deciding whether words begin with the same sounds (bat, bell, boy)

I encourage you to continue to “lure” your children into the magnificent world of literature.