Suggestions, Tips, & Resources for Parents

  • You may find the following suggestions, tips, and resources helpful in working with your child.

    Learn About Dyslexia
    * Expand your knowledge by reading.
    * Attend conferences and presentations by professionals in the field.

    Talk With Your Child About Dyslexia

    Your child may have questions about dyslexia. He/she needs knowledge, reassurance, and support from you. Listed below are some possible questions your child may ask, along with some simple, straightforward answers.

    What is dyslexia? - Dyslexia means learning to read differently from other people.
    How did I get dyslexia? - You were born with it, just like you were born with... (freckles, green eyes, etc.)
    Is there something wrong with my brain? - No, your brain is normal. The road your brain takes to reading is different. It may be harder, and it may take longer, but you will be able to learn to read.
    Can anyone catch dyslexia? - No, dyslexia is not contagious, like a virus or a cold.
    Why does it have such a weird name? - The word “dyslexia” comes from the Latin word “dys” which means difficult, and the Greek word “lexia” when means words.
    Am I dumb because I have dyslexia? - No, dyslexia is a problem that intelligent people have with reading. It has nothing to do with how smart you are.
    Will my dyslexia ever go away? - No, but children who have dyslexia can learn to read. YOU are not the problem; you have a problem with learning to read. You will learn how to handle your dyslexia.

    Collaborate With Educators

    • Gain knowledge about the school’s responsibilities and your child.
    • Act as a liaison between your child and the school, adding a positive dimension for both.
    • Communicate your child’s special learning needs to the school.
    • Develop an ongoing communication system between home and school.
    • Establish a team approach planned by teacher, parent, and student for developing study skills and assisting with schoolwork.
      • Designate a time and place for homework.
      • Devise a plan for completing long assignments.
      • Develop strategies for complex assignments.
      • Read aloud to your child.
      • Incorporate technology for efficient and effective learning.
      • Exhibit enthusiasm and interest in your child’s learning.
      • Encourage ways of teaching and learning that optimize your child’s abilities.

    Read Aloud  - Struggling readers need daily practice in reading aloud. Use the strategies below to guide your child’s reading.

Problem Solving Strategies for Parents/Guardians

  • Your child should learn how to monitor his/her reading. He/she will try to make words and pictures agree or match. Looking puzzled, stopping, trying again by starting over, are all signs that let you know he/she is aware that something is not quite right. 
    PARENTS: It is important the child do the monitoring. Do not “help” too quickly. Give your child thinking time. If your child really is stuck, after allowing time, you may ask: “Was that okay?”  “Did that make sense?” “Why did you stop?” “What did you notice?” “Was there something tricky in that sentence? Show me.”

    Your child should self-correct his/her errors.
    PARENTS: Allow time for your child to correct any errors. The child must take the first step. The child may reread the sentence(s) to support his/her attempts to decode (figure out) an unfamiliar word.

    Your child should cross-check his/her strategy use. He/she should be checking to see if his/her attempts make sense. Does the word match the beginning letter sound? Does the word match the letters within the word? 
    PARENTS: If your child becomes frustrated and does not know what to do, you may want to use one of the following prompts to help:
    “Can you ‘decode’ (sound out) the word?”
    “What else could you try?”
    “Do you know another word that starts like that?”
    “Do you know a word that looks like this word?”
    “What do you think it could be?”
    “Run your finger under the tricky word as you decode.”
    “Do the letters give you any clues?”
    “Get your mouth ready to say the first sound.”

    Remember, it is extremely important your child do the reading work, not you! Give sufficient time for your child to try and try again.

Tips to Encourage Reading and Writing

    1. Keep reading materials in your child’s room. They may choose to read more often if reading materials are readily available.
    2. Carry reading materials along when you go to the doctor, dentist, or other places you may have to wait.
    3. Reading a story or poem is a magical way to soothe a fretful child or boredom.
    4. Have your child help with a family message center. Children love the sense of accomplishment – and helping! – when they seek out items from the shopping list. At the same time, your child is reading – while seemingly doing something else. Sneaky!
    5. Read recipes together. All reading does not happen in books. When you are cooking, ask your child to read the ingredients to you.
    6. Read road signs. While you are driving, ask your child to read the road signs: Stop, Yield, One Way, street signs, or maps.
    7. Use audiobooks or online books. You may lack time to read to your child as much as you would like, but that is no reason your child should be denied this pleasure.
    8. Encourage your child to keep a daily journal.
    9. Vary the writing your child does at home for different audiences and for different purposes.
    10. Encourage creativity and the enjoyment of writing.
    11. Model reading and writing for your child.


    Selecting Books for Your Child
    Use the steps below to help in selecting books from the library or bookstore which are at an appropriate level of difficulty for your child.

    1. Choose a random page from the middle of the book and ask your child to read it aloud.
    2. Keep an unseen count for every time he/she makes an error.
    3. If he/she makes five or more errors on the page, the book is likely too difficult.

    If your child shows interest in the book, a suggestion would be to use it as one for you to read aloud to your child. Modeling fluent reading provides a wonderful opportunity to share good literature with your child. Listening to an adult read fluently permits your child to hear the flow and pace of language as the writer intended.

Homework Help

  • There are many things parents/guardians can do to help when it comes to homework.

    • Set a regular time for doing homework. Take into account the need for having a break from schoolwork and the importance of getting work done early in the evening, if possible. For many families right after dinner is a good time.
    • Designate a regular place for doing homework that takes into account your child’s learning preferences. Have needed supplies available.
    • Model good work habits. Be nearby, doing your own “homework”, such as paying bills, sorting mail, etc.
    • Coach your child at the beginning and at the end of an assignment, and at checkpoints along the way if he/she has difficulty with lengthier assignments.
    • If your child has difficulty working independently on assignments, establish a schedule that includes the time he/she is expected to work alone before asking for help. Discuss the kinds of help you may provide and the things you expect him/her to do alone.
    • Schedule breaks and limit the number of spontaneous interruptions as much as possible.
    • Chunk a long assignment into smaller, more manageable portions/tasks. Coach your child so that he/she can learn to do this independently.
    • Be available to spell words if this interferes with his/her flow of thought while writing, or to serve as a scribe on lengthier assignments, if handwriting is a hindrance.
    • Make sure you and your child understand the expectations for homework. It may be helpful to review the directions and estimate the amount of time it may take.
    • Establish the habit of using a planner to record assignments, directions, and due dates. Coach your child to seek clarification from the teacher if an assignment seems unclear. Coach your child by asking questions or reinforcing what has been done. Help your child see how a particular assignment or skill fits into the curriculum. Make suggestions, but avoid doing the work for your child. Work together in a way that keeps the child responsible.

Self-Esteem

  • Students with dyslexia may face challenges emotionally as well as academically. Unwavering support and acceptance from a parent are critical. Encouragement and support in developing special talents not related to reading may help build confidence and self-image, which often carries over into overall performance. Be specific in setting realistic goals and confront problems honestly. Confidence and self-esteem develop from real, tangible success. Honest praise for hard work, persistence, willingness to ask for help, and accepting and learning from mistakes will emphasize the significance of traits and attitudes which can lead to long-term success.

    Factors for Success

    • Having a consistently supportive adult
    • Receiving “You can” messages from supportive adults and/or peers
    • Providing the gift of time (reduced workload, long time to “grow up”, longer time to process, organize, and execute tasks)
    • Developing a talent or special skill and taking the opportunity to “teach” it to others
    • Addressing problems frankly and directly (enormous relief comes from knowing what you know, what you do not know, and why you do not know)
    • Providing order, routines, and clear instructions
    • Simplifying complicated tasks by breaking them down into small, manageable chunks
    • Receiving assistance in prioritizing and sequencing events and /or tasks
    • Receiving assistance in planning and managing time
    • Developing problem-solving skills and strategies for academics as well as interpersonal relationships
    • Learning experientially (hands-on) by doing and through formats other than books and paper and pencil.
    • Being stimulated intellectually beyond the development of basic skills

Recommended Books for Parents/Guardians

    • Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Schaywitz, M.D.
    • Winning the Homework War by Kathleen Anesko
    • What’s Wrong with Me? Learning Disabilities at Home and at School by Regina Cicci
    • Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility by Foster Cline
    • The Reading Brain: The Biological Basis of Dyslexia by Drake Duane
    • Straight Talk About Reading by Susan Hall & Louisa Moats
    • Your Child’s Growing Mind: A Practical Guide to Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.
    • Attention Deficit Disorder and Learning Disabilities by Barbara Ingersoll
    • Basic Facts About Dyslexia: What Everyone Ought to Know by International Dyslexia Association
    • Upside Down Kids: Helping Dyslexic Children Understand Themselves and Their Disorder by Harold Levinson
    • Turning Around the Upside Down Kids: Helping Dyslexic Kids Overcome Their Disorder by Harold Levinson
    • Dysgraphia: Why Johnny Can’t Write? A Handbook for Teachers and Parents by Pro-Ed
    • The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Dyslexia by Abigail Marshall
    • Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents by Gavin Reid
    • When Your Child Has… Dyslexia by Abigail Marshall

Recommended Books for Children

    • I Have Dyslexia. What Does That Mean? by Shelley Ball-Dannenberg & Delaney Dannenberg
    • Tom’s Special Talent by Kate Gaynor
    • Thank you, Mr. Falkner by Patricia Polacco
    • It’s Called Dyslexia by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
    • The Alphabet War- A Story About Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb
    • The Don’t Give Up- Kid and Learning Disabilities by Jeanne Gehret
    • How Dyslexic Benny Became a Star: A Story of Hope for Dyslexic Children and Their Parents by Joe Griffith
    • Josh: A Boy with Dyslexia by Caroline Janover
    • Charlie’s Challenge by Ann Root & Linda Gladden
    • My Name is Brain Brian by Jeanne Betancourt