Why early identification is key to your dyslexic child’s self-esteem Unlock doors to self-understanding

Early identification of dyslexia can help self esteem

Imagine if you were able to give you child some sort of answer to why he can’t seem to get stuff the way other kids can?

What if you were able to tell your child, “The reason you struggle so much at school is not because you are less clever than your classmates – it’s because you have dyslexia”?

There are so many reasons why it’s important to identify dyslexia in your child as early as possible.  Perhaps the most important is the effect on your child’s self confidence. Feelings of frustration and failure can be extremely harmful to a child’s self esteem. Isn’t it better that your child knows there is a problem that is not their fault?

“When school or work is difficult, the best news to tell a parent, child or adult is “it’s because you have dyslexia”. This unlocks doors to self-understanding” Bernadette McLean, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre

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Outdoor Summer Fun for your child with dyslexia 5 Outdoor Activities to keep your child with dyslexia learning over the summer holidays

Dyslexia Summer Fun

It’s the summer holidays – unplug the PlayStation, grab the raincoats and jump into the wellies!

Multi-sensory learning is important for the child with dyslexia – and where is more multi-sensory than the woods, the beach or the local park?

Your child with dyslexia may learn more by doing and investigating rather than simply watching and hearing. This time away from the classroom is a great opportunity to share the great outdoors with your dyslexic child and participate in activities with friends, family and community.

“The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. This is important as babies and young children learn and gain experience through all their senses “ – NCT

5 Outdoor Activities to keep your child with dyslexia learning

Here are 5 activities you can do with your dyslexic child over the next few weeks to encourage his curiosity, persistence, investigation and discovery. Take a picnic and make an afternoon adventure of it  – and you never know, your child may even discover the joy of unplugging that PlayStation!

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5 tips to help your child with dyslexia enjoy the Summer Reading Challenge Stop the Summer Slide with the Summer Reading Challenge

Stop the Summer Slide with the Summer Reading Challenge

Stop the Dyslexia Summer Slide!

It’s a fact that, whatever your child’s reading level, there’s a chance their reading will regress over the summer holidays.  Known as the “Summer Slide”, your child is likely to return to school in September with a lower reading age than he has now. This is particularly true of the child with dyslexia, who is likely to be a reluctant reader anyway.

How can a book possibly compete with films, You Tube or their PlayStation, right? But it’s important for the dyslexic child to keep reading over the holidays and beat that “Summer Slide”. Read more ›

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Dyslexia: Learning Difficulty or Learning Difference? What’s in a name?

Dyslexia: Learning Difficulty – or Learning Difference?

Is labelling dyslexia as a “difficulty” a good thing?

Dyslexia is usually identified as a Learning Difficulty, or a Specific Learning Difficulty.

A difficulty is “a thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand”.

Well, it’s certainly true that reading, writing and spelling can be all of those things for the dyslexic child! Hard to accomplish, deal with and understand! But does that mean your child has a Learning Difficulty? Does your child find learning difficult?  Not necessarily!

Do you agree that the word “difficulty” is a negative term?  A word that somehow suggests there is something “wrong” with the child?  That the child with dyslexia is in some way “broken”.  Perhaps his brain is wired incorrectly. Maybe he has an inability to learn because he is not intelligent enough!

Is dyslexia really a “difficulty”?

Should we tell a child he has a “difficulty”?

Could describing dyslexia as a “difficulty” gives dyslexia a negative slant?  Something to be overcome?

And what if your child is told he has a “difficulty”? Does it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will he come to  believe “I can’t do that because I have a Difficulty”? Would he expect to struggle?

In addition, let’s think about those surrounding the dyslexic child. Parents, friends, relatives, teachers. Might they focus on the child’s weaknesses, rather than his strengths?

But the dyslexic child may have many positive attributes.  He may have better three-dimensional spatial reasoning.  Perhaps he may be able to understand abstract information and see connections between concepts.  It could be he is exceptionally creative.

 Specific Learning Difficulty

The British Dyslexia Association call dyslexia a Specific Learning Difficulty

Seems like the British Dyslexia Association don’t like the term Learning Difficulty either.  Although it’s a bit clunky, they are keen to call dyslexia a  Specific Learning Difficulty.  This is because Learning Difficulty is more of a global term which indicates an overall impairment of intelligence and function.  Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty because there is a discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability.

But what if a dyslexic child is taught in the right way, the way that enables them to learn? Then is the word “difficulty” still applicable? Wouldn’t dyslexia become a learning difference, rather than  a difficulty?

What’s in a name? Celebrating difference

If dyslexia was acknowledged globally as a Learning Difference rather than a Difficulty, would it help your child?

Would a name change make a difference to your dyslexic child?

  • First of all, your child may be encouraged to be the best he can. To embrace a “can do” attitude to life. After all, who wants to go through life thinking they have a “difficulty” which they need to somehow overcome?
  • Also those surrounding your child may be reminded that a dyslexic child needs a different way to learn.  Acknowledging dyslexia as a difference places the emphasis firmly on inclusion.
  • In addition, teachers may feel encouraged to embrace difference when they plan and teach.  Perhaps it would help teachers to remember to think about the needs of their dyslexic learners more and differentiate their lessons to accommodate their needs.  It might remind teachers to embrace multi-sensory teaching methods.  Multi-sensory teaching helps all the children learn.
  • Finally, school authorities may feel more responsibility to support difference through school policy, practice and ethos.

But do children really want to be different? Does Learning Difference describe dyslexia better? Would difference be a great ethos to celebrate?

 

 

Posted in Dyslexia News

Games to Improve Your Dyslexic Child’s Short-Term Memory – and still have fun! Improve your child's memory skills with some fun games

Fun games for short-term memory

The summer holidays are charging towards us…

There’s no doubt the children are switching off at school and the teachers winding down.  Now’s the time for playing games with my students – but I’m not ready to abandon their learning completely.  That’s why I have pulled out some fun games from my resource cupboard that are also educational.

This week I’ve been targeting short term memory issues.

“Short-term memory weakness is one of the eight causes of reading difficulty.”

A lot of children with dyslexia have short-term memory difficulties.  A poor short-term memory can result in poor organisational skills.  Short-term memory difficulties can also be an underlying cause of poor reading and spelling. Any game that targets memory is going to be beneficial to a child who has a poor short-term memory.

Here’s my top 4 Games to Improve Your Dyslexic Child’s Short-Term Memory – and still have fun!

Wooden Memory Game  (Toys of Wood Oxford)

The Wooden Memory Game (I know, not the catchiest of names!) involves trying to remember the location of different coloured pegs on a wooden board.

It can be played with 2 -4 players and it’s suitable for any age.

It’s a deceptively simple game – but effective. Well-made, simple to play and good fun!

Get the Wooden Memory Game here!

 

I Never Forget a Face (eeBoo)

A variation on a classic memory game, it involves finding matching pairs of children from around the world.

Beautiful colours printed on good quality board – although some of the pictures are a bit stereotypical!

EeBoo also have other versions of this game which your child may like – the Life on Earth game from the same company is on my Wish List!

Get I Never Forget a Face here!

 

 

 

Flip to Win Travel Memory Game (Melissa & Doug)

This is a game more suitable for the under 7’s – it could be good to pop in the car on a long journey as there are no small pieces to get lost.

The idea is to flip the wooden windows to locate matching pairs of objects.  The game can be varied by slotting in different cards with different themes.

Another beautifully made wooden game!

Get Flip to Win Travel Game here!

 

Pengoloo (Blue Orange)

The hit of the summer! This beautifully-crafted wooden game seems to appeal to girls, boys, 5 year olds as well as 14 year olds.

It’s a bit more expensive than the others but well worth the money.

Throw the dice and then find which penguin is hiding eggs that match the colours on the dice.  Lots of fun!

Buy Pengoloo here!

 

You are either looking forward to having your children home for the next 6 weeks, or you’re dreading it (or a mixture of the two)! If you are looking for something to keep your children occupied on a rainy day (with the added bonus of improving short-term memory skills), these games could be for you!

Have you found a good game to help short-term memory?

 

Posted in Dyslexia News

Which Witch: How To Spell this Confusing Homophone help your dyslexic child to spell “which” and “witch” like a pro

help your child spell “witch” and “which” like a pro

Did you know there are an estimated 185 ways to spell the 44 sounds found in the English language?  It’s no wonder some children (and adults!) struggle to spell…

Children with dyslexia often get confused with homophones.  Homophones are words which sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings.  Like ‘which’ and ‘witch’.

These commonly confused homophones are tricky! And sometimes dyslexic children have long-established spelling errors. You may find your child’s inaccurate spelling has become an established pattern in his writing.

I’m going to show you how to get your dyslexic child to spell “which” and “witch” like a pro.

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Your Child With Dyslexia: The Expert

Help Your Child with Dyslexia Become an Expert

The Royal Cheshire County Show has ended for another year.  Amongst the competitors in the Show Ring was one of my students, Jack (not his real name).  Jack is a farmer’s son. Last week he confidently and competently showed his prize-winning calves at the County Show in the under 16 years old class.  Not so long ago, he watched his calves being born (and can show you the video)! And he has helped his father raise them. I know he will be proud to show off his rosettes when he comes for his dyslexia lesson this week.

In the classroom, it’s a different story for Jack.  He is averagely intelligent but has very slow processing speed, making his reading slow and laborious and his spelling weak.

Jack is never going to find school easy.  But whilst he may struggle academically, he has found something he loves.  He has found his “thing”.

Most children with dyslexia are not confident in the classroom.  When children reach their teens, especially, they may become overly aware that their academic abilities are poor compared to their friends.  This can lead to low self-esteem and a sense of pessimism about school and their future.  At worse, the dyslexic child can suffer from depression or behavioural issues.

But this does not have to be the case. I’ve often noticed that a dyslexic child who has an interest, or is good at something, is better equipped to cope with school and has better long term prospects.

Let your child with dyslexia become an expert

Help your child develop an area of expertise.  Help them find their “thing”. It could be anything.  And it will probably change as your child grows up.

It doesn’t have to be something academic. It doesn’t have to be something that will directly help them in later life. It doesn’t have to be something that will lead to a career.  Just something your dyslexic child is interested in or is good at.  My own students have a wealth of interests: sailing, reptiles, cricket, piano, swimming, Lego, ballet and Star Wars.  Whatever it may be, encourage your child to become an expert.

Why will developing an interest or hobby help your child with dyslexia?

Fitting in to the group or looking good in front of friends is important to a child. Being an expert can provide opportunities for your dyslexic child to shine in front of his or her peers.

Your dyslexic may meet other children who share a common interest, in an environment where their dyslexia is totally irrelevant.  Meeting another kid at Games Workshop or the Swimming Club every Saturday morning is one way long-lasting friendships begin.

The knowledge that he or she may not be much good at English Literature but is an expert in sheep husbandry or is an amazing Cheer Leader may make all the difference to your child’s confidence.  Being good at something will do wonders for your dyslexic child’s self esteem.

Every child should have a chance to succeed in life. Encourage your child with dyslexia to become an expert.  Encourage your child to find their “thing”.

Posted in Dyslexia News

Dyslexia: Social and Emotional Impact

Feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem are common amongst children who suffer from dyslexia.

Psychologists presented research into the social and emotional impact of dyslexia at a Specific Learning Differences conference in Singapore yesterday.

Reading about the social and emotional impact of dyslexia made me think about my own dyslexic students that I teach.

I thought about the 13 year old boy who immediately transforms into “clown” mode when asked to write anything down on paper.  I thought about the 12 year old girl who tells me she hates the withdrawn, sulky face she presents to the world and would like to be someone else.  I thought about the 7 year old boy who is often angry, frustrated and disruptive in class because he “just doesn’t get it”.

It’s no wonder that these children have low self-esteem and anxiety issues. Dyslexic children have to work so much harder in the classroom than other children. Often the struggle for the dyslexic child is overwhelming; they either lose concentration and lapse into misbehaviour – or simply give up.

Richard Branson left school at 15; his headmaster told him he “would either end up in prison or become a millionaire”.

Success at school is very important to a child’s feelings of self-worth.  A child’s self-esteem is intrinsically linked to how well he is doing at school, compared to his peers. If everybody else is “getting it”, if everybody else is able to read, if everyone else can spell better, the dyslexic child can develop a very poor opinion of his own abilities and self-worth. And negative feelings can grow as the child gets older. By the time the dyslexic student reaches university, Bob Burden argues that dyslexics may be more in need of counselling than specific teaching interventions (https://senmagazine.co.uk/articles/899-what-are-the-emotional-consequences-of-dyslexia.html).

Dyslexic children benefit enormously from loving support and encouragement from parents and teachers. You don’t necessarily have to produce an answer to your child’s problems. Just listening to what your child has to say and acknowledging his fears and feelings can help him.  Let him know that he is not alone.

 

Posted in Dyslexia News

Improve your dyslexic child’s writing accuracy with this 3-step proofreading tip.

Proofreading to writing success

“Have you checked your work?”

“Read it over carefully!”

How often have you said that to your child as he hastily shovels his homework books back into his school bag and heads out of the door?

But how does he know how to check his work?  Has anyone ever taught him what to do?

When it comes to writing, your child with dyslexia is not going to get it right first time.  When you think about it, there’s so much goes in to the writing process:

  • Thinking of what to write and choosing the right words
  • Thinking about how to spell the words
  • Thinking about the correct formation of the letters, which order they go in and getting the letters on the line
  • Thinking about punctuation

All of this can place tremendous strain on the memory skills of the dyslexic child.  Many children with dyslexia suffer from poor short and long term memory. Even if he has typed his work on to a computer, Spell Check won’t pick up every mistake.

Proofreading is a great skill to teach your dyslexic child.  Knowing how to check his work is a skill that will valuable throughout his life.  Teach it at an early stage, as soon as your child begins to write and it will become a habit.

Here’s a quick and easy 3-step check to help your child check his work.  Cut the work up into chunks and ask your child to check only a small part at a time.

Ask 3 questions:

1 Have you got all the words you need?

2 Have you got all the punctuation you need?

3 Is your spelling as good as you can make it?

 

1 Have you got all the words you need?

Get your child to actually point to each word with his finger or a pen and say that word out loud.  When reading back their own work, children with dyslexia often only see what they think they have written and not what is actually on the page.  Listening to the sound of his own voice as he reads will help him spot if any words have been left out and that the meaning of the sentence is clear.

2 Have you got all the punctuation you need?

Smaller children may simply be checking that they have a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and a full stop or a question mark at the end of a sentence. For older children, it may be they will be checking for more advanced punctuation, such as commas, speech marks etc.

3 Is your spelling as good as you can make it?

This is a tricky one!  A child with dyslexia may never be the best speller in the world! But sometimes, when checking their work they are able to identify spelling mistakes.

Try getting your child to write problem words out several different ways to see which version “looks right”. This will help to improve his visual memory, so that he feels more confident in correcting his spelling.

Dyslexic children often have particular “sticky” words that always give them problems.  Of course, this is different for every child.  Your child may regularly spell the word “does” or “was” wrong.    Draw your child’s attention to the fact that this is one of his “tricky” words and so always worth checking.  Ask him to focus on words that he knows give him problems.

Print the 3-step check out and put it up on the fridge door as a reminder.  You’ll be surprised how soon the 3-step check becomes a good habit!

Does your child have difficulty with proofreading?  Have you found any tips that have helped?

Posted in Dyslexia News

Irlen Syndrome – fact or fiction?

Irlen Syndrome – fact or fiction?

Yesterday Jessica arrived for her dyslexia lesson.  She had remembered to bring her pale green overlay to her lesson.  I was pleased because we often spend part of our lesson reading from a book of her choice.

Jessica is dyslexic.  She also suffers from Irlen Syndrome – or Visual Stress.

I am very short-sighted.  I got my first pair of glasses when I was 14.  It was a revelation! I never knew my fuzzy view of the world wasn’t what everyone else sees! We all think we see things the same way – and it’s the same when it comes to reading.  We all think we see words in groups or phrases.  We all think that print is more dominant than the background.  We think that words and lines are evenly spaced.  We certainly don’t think words can move!

It is thought that 35-40% of people with dyslexia also have Irlen Syndrome or Visual Stress.

Irlen Syndrome can affect the way people “see” words on the page.  It is nothing to do with poor eyesight. It is thought to be a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information. Irlen Syndrome is a separate thing from dyslexia.  These are two different problems.

What is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen Syndrome may cause distortions of the text on the page.  Words may move in various ways.  Words can fade, disappear, swirl or blur.  Letters and words may float, fade, change size or become 3D.  Lines of words may wave or split into rivers running down the page.  Have a look on Irlen.com for examples of distortions.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be to read when faced with these problems? How difficult it would be to take in what you are reading?

Irlens Syndrome has been linked to lots of problems such as headaches and migraines, physical discomfort and behavioural issues or underachievement at school.

So is Irlen Syndrome “a thing”?

In the 1980’s, Helen Irlen claimed that filtering out certain frequencies of light using coloured lenses would allow the brain to process visual information more easily and relieve some of the symptoms of Visual Stress.

It seems like a very simple idea, doesn’t it? Indeed, a whole business was launched and continues to prosper on the back of Helen Irlen’s claims.  Today, every school has a number of children who use either coloured overlays or coloured lenses in glasses to help them read.

But the controversy surrounding Irlen Syndrome continues.  Investigations in the 1990’s suggested that much of Helen Irlen’s evidence was unpublished and difficult to obtain and there was little scientific support for Irlen’s concept.  Evaluations of the lenses did not support their use as an intervention for children with reading difficulties.  Indeed, studies suggested a strong placebo effect.

Back to Jessica and her pale green overlay.  I know that Jessica’s reading improves when she uses her overlay.  She reads more accurately and more fluently.  Fact or fiction, placebo or nocebo, surely anything that can help give a child the confidence to read is worthwhile?

Does your child use an overlay or coloured lenses to help him read? Does an overlay improve your child’s reading?

Posted in Dyslexia News