Advice for Parents of a Child with Dyslexia

Accept that the child has dyslexia. One cannot respond to something that is not acknowledged. Realise that the child may not be able to accomplish the goals the parent had expected and hoped and that other goals may need to be set. Acceptance needs to be shown by supporting the child to overcome their difficulties.

Learn about the nature of the disability and understand that the child learns alternatively. Even though dyslexia is often a misunderstood area with much research still to be done, there is information on the Internet and in books and articles from which a parent can learn. The important thing is that the parent should realise that the child learns via alternative methods compared to traditional learners and therefore has learning strengths and weaknesses. This leads to the next tip.

Find the learning strengths, weaknesses, and talents of the child. Learning should be channelled through one’s strengths. For example, the child may have high intelligence or may learn better through reading or listening and visuals. The child may be creative, a good thinker and enjoy learning via experiencing and doing.

Create an environment that encourages learning. Providing positive reinforcement is important. The following points should be considered:

    • The child may need private tutoring. A parent needs to organise their daily schedule to provide quality learning time or seek help using an outside tutor. A tutor will probably be needed anyway if the child is in high school.
    • Set realistic goals and guide the learning activities to the level of the child. The activities need to be challenging and not too difficult so the child feels a sense of achievement and success, which is vital for building confidence.
    • Encourage them to learn from their mistakes. This makes the child realise that making mistakes is not a bad thing, but part of the learning process. This should be emphasised particularly during one-to-one tutoring because the child is not competing with anyone else but himself or herself. This is in contrast to a competitive classroom environment, where making a mistake in front of classmates is a sign of failure.
    • Be patient. The learning process will be slow, so there exists the temptation to become frustrated and impatient. This must be resisted at all costs if the child is doing their best. Such feelings become detrimental to the learning process because not only do they send a message of failure, but the child is being blamed for something they have no control over.

Balance the child’s homework with other activities. Realise that the child may be spending much longer than other children on homework, possibly hours longer. This overloading of work must be balanced with other hobbies and activitiesthe child enjoys; otherwise, they will feel a strong resentment towards their schooling.

Support the child in subject areas, hobbies, and potential career paths they are interested in and good at. As the child grows and develops, examine the areas they enjoy and feel comfortable in. What is absolute essential here is that the child is able to achieve in something and become good at it. Care should be taken to suggest but not force the child into fields parents think are best.