Learning involves acquiring skills, knowledge, behaviors, and values. Although we learn many things through study, we also acquire countless learnings through experience, instruction, reasoning, and observation.
In principle, the learning process should be motivating and satisfying. However, the reality for many children is far from this. Many suffer during their educational stage by not achieving the academic performance that is expected of them.
Decades ago, it was believed that all those students unable to keep up with the class were simply “dumb”. Fortunately, advances in psychology have made it possible to understand that there are many reasons that can prevent a child from learning normally. One of them is dyslexia.
Until science was able to define exactly what dyslexia was and how it could be detected, many people have lived assuming their inability to learn, when really the underlying problem was a learning disorder.
This has left a mark not only academically, but also emotionally, on those who have gone through this. Although the panorama has undergone a great transformation in recent years and this problem is becoming more widely known, the truth is that many parents and teachers still have doubts about how to help a child with dyslexia.
For this reason, in this article, Archana Agarwal, the CEO of Aark Learnings a leading online education platform, talks about some guidelines that can help manage the situation and promote the full development of a child with dyslexia.
What is dyslexia?
First of all, it is important to clarify what we mean by dyslexia. This is defined as a specific neurobiologically based learning disorder. Essentially, it is characterized by the presence of difficulties in accuracy and/or fluency in word recognition, as well as a lack of skill in writing and verbal decoding.
These difficulties are due to a deficit in the phonological processing of language, something that contrasts with adequate cognitive abilities and adequate teacher instruction.
As a secondary consequence, dyslexia can lead to reading comprehension problems. In addition, this disorder can lead the individual to significantly reduce their reading practice, which translates into a more limited vocabulary and knowledge.
Dyslexia can also affect processing speed, motor skills, visual and/or auditory perception, short-term memory, and spoken language. Although each person with dyslexia may show different symptoms, in general, the range of warning signs includes :
- laterality problems
- Confusion of words with similar pronunciation
- Difficulty articulating or pronouncing words
- Transposition of letters and inversion of numbers
- Very laborious reading and with errors
- Trouble concentrating on reading or writing
- Difficulty following directions
- balance problems
- Difficulty organizing thoughts and sustaining attention
Although dyslexia is always talked about in general, the truth is that there are different types.
Dyslexia of this type is one that appears as a consequence of a brain injury.
This type is the most common in the school environment, it is one in which there is no specific brain injury. In turn, this can be classified into:
- Phonological or indirect: This type of dyslexia is caused by a malfunction of the phonological pathway. This makes the child perform a visual reading based on the deduction, so the reading is correct when it comes to common words but very difficult when they are unknown, long, or pseudowords.
- Superficial: Superficial dyslexia is one in which the child reads using the phonological route. In this case, the reading will be normal in the case of regular words, although it will be complicated in the case of irregular words (for example, those in English). Reading speed is reduced when the words are long, in addition to errors of omission, addition, and substitution of letters. The confusion of homophones is frequent, those that sound the same but have different meanings.
- Mixed or deep: This type of dyslexia is the most severe, since both the phonological and visual routes are damaged, which causes semantic errors to occur.
How to help a child with dyslexia
Now that we have clarified what dyslexia is, it is time to talk about how to handle the situation. First of all, we must bear in mind that the needs of children with dyslexia are not always the same, as each case is unique.
However, in general, it must be taken into account that it will always be necessary to resort to alternative teaching methods to the traditional ones.
In this way, it seeks to ensure that students with dyslexia can have significant learning, as well as important emotional support. Thus, the ultimate goal is to prevent dyslexia from becoming an obstacle to the child’s comprehensive development. Next, we will see some important guidelines to act with a child with dyslexia.
1. Identify the problem
It is impossible to help a child with dyslexia if you do not know exactly what type of dyslexia they have and to what degree.
At the slightest suspicion that it is this problem, it is essential that a professional carry out an exhaustive evaluation of the case to identify the specific problem that must be tackled. Once this point is clear, it will be easy to work with the child and see results.
2. Activities at home
Although dyslexia is worked on at school, that does not mean that parents should not do the same at home. The family has a very important role since they must carry out activities with the child to promote reading and comprehension. Some examples are:
- Read with the child stories that he likes, so that he can concentrate on the words and take the time he needs to understand the content. Using topics that interest you will help make reading a pleasant activity and not a punishment.
- Play to detect the error. To do this, a list of words that may cost the child more is drawn up. He is asked to read them and then the adult reads the list again aloud, asking him to correct him if he reads any wrong. This game is of great help so that the child can pay attention to the correspondence between sounds and letters.
- Reading of complex syllables. This exercise consists of the child silently reading a list of syllables and then doing it aloud. It is very helpful to point out the syllables that he reads well to indicate his progress and promote motivation. As improvements are noted, difficulty can be increased by substituting words or phrases for syllables.
Many times, trying to help the child with dyslexia, he becomes overloaded with numerous tasks that have the opposite effect of the desired one.
An excellent way to work on dyslexia in a playful way is to play games. Letter games, such as hangman or chain words, are simple strategies that are fun. In addition, playing is a way of maintaining the connection between parents and children, since a shared leisure space is created that favors complicity.
4. Do not overexert
Many parents, out of concern and desire for their child to show improvement, tend to over-demand and pressure the child to do more and more homework.
This can lead to the neglect of other equally important things, such as enjoying leisure activities or simply resting. It is crucial that the family shows an empathic and understanding attitude, recognizing the great effort that the child makes in carrying out their tasks.
5. Strengthen self-esteem
One of the most common secondary problems of dyslexia has to do with low self-esteem. Children with this problem often feel inferior to others and perceive themselves as less capable or lacking in talents and abilities.
It is essential that the family works to break this idea that he is “dumb”, and make it clear to the child that the difficulties when reading has nothing to do with his intelligence.
It is essential that, in addition to working on reading, activities in which the child excels are also encouraged. For example, sports, dancing, painting, playing an instrument… The fact that the child feels that he is very competent in these other areas will be of great help to preserve adequate self-esteem and maintain her motivation.
In this article, we have talked about some guidelines that can be helpful for parents to help their children with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that produces a deficit in the phonological processing of language.
Thus, the child shows problems reading and understanding what she reads despite adequate cognitive ability and instruction. Beyond the school, parents can help their child by doing various activities at home to train reading, play with him, strengthen his talents and strengths and show an empathetic attitude that recognizes his effort.
Name – Archana Agarwal
Bio – Archana Agarwal is a Postgraduate in International Management from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, an Entrepreneur, a proud mother to a 7-year-old, and Founder- CEO of Aark Learnings a leading online education platform that provides skill-based holistic education and online coding classes for kids which help in their growth and overall development.