Every dyslexic child is different. A multi-sensory approach to learning is always best, especially the use of touch and movement, for a Dyslexic child.
Tactile and kinetic memory. Dyslexic children appear to learn through by touch (kinaesthetically) and think in pictures. Some words, like “house” and “bird” will form a picture of a house and a bird in his memory but others like “and, am, was, could, having, such” etc. form no pictures in his mind.
The child must use his whole body to learn. He must use the large-motor muscles, the sense of touch, movement and balance. Let him make the letters of the alphabet in plasticine or clay – he must make them quite big and in proportion. Feel the letters that cause confusion and say its name out loud as he feels it, thus combining three senses. Letters can also be cut out of sandpaper for him to feel. Let the child draw letters with chalk on the floor or in the air ( the child always facing the same way). Let him ‘hopscotch’ the letter using a beanbag pushed along a drawn letter on the floor. Let him feel the letter as you trace it on his back.
· Realise firstly that reading must be a pleasurable activity and that a child needs to build self-confidence in his ability to read.
· Understand that children must not be given more complex material than what they are capable of reading. The child needs to be relaxed and feel confident in order to read with enjoyment and understanding.
· Provide reading material on a subject the child is interested in.
· A systematic reading scheme that allows for repetition and the gradual introduction of new words is the way to go in order for the child to build self-confidence in his ability to progress in his reading.
· Understand that children must not be expected to read for long periods.
· It is highly beneficial, especially with the young child, to go over the same book because with repetition and recall the child will soon remember the words he didn’t know initially. Books with repetition of the same phrases, such as “He huffed and he puffed …” are of great benefit.
· Remember the golden rule – should a child stumble over a word, tell him the word and go on with the story. When a child is confident that he will be told a word he does not know, encourage him to look at the sound of the first letter of a word, in order to provide him with a clue. If the word is for example floor, then maybe point to the floor, thus giving a non-verbal clue. However, do not labour the point as the child may lose the drift of the story.
· Stop for a while to recall and discuss what has been read and to guess at what may possibly happen next in a story. Most children will enjoy having their say about the possible story line/ending.
· Discuss the book, the front cover, the pictures inside, the characters, the main themes and the possible information to be gleaned before starting to read a book. This will assist in forming background knowledge and the anticipated meaning of what the book is about. The child may use these clues to assist him in his reading.
· Paired and shared reading are good strategies. Read together, stop and let the child carry on and vice versa or each person can read a sentence – and point to the words as they are reading. The parent needs to model the proficient reading of text – when to pause/stop etc.
· Story tapes and books are excellent materials for the promotion of vocabulary and to enhance the flow of reading. Allow the child to read aloud to you with the story tape that he has heard before.
· In order to improve word knowledge, phonemic awareness and proficiency in reading a book, the child can be given words which are possible to sound as an exercise prior to the reading of a new book. Pick out words that can be sounded and write these down. Use flash cards to introduce difficult words in the text before reading the book.
To boost his self esteem read about famous dyslexic people – Alexander Bell, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford – to name a few. Dyslexic people have vivid imaginations and use all their senses to think. They are normally highly creative and very bright as they think in multiple dimensions. These are the talents that are needed in the workplace today.