Teaching Dyslexic Children at Home? Here Are Some Tips…

Written by: Amber Creamer

Under the current circumstances of our nation, many decisions are being made for our children and us. While it’s for our well-being, it’s possible these decisions have put many parents in situations we would never have imagined being in…including being our child’s “teacher”. Although students are still getting the content of their education through their school district, it’s up to us, the parents, to enforce, oversee, and aid our children through the process. Those of you with dyslexic children are now thrust into navigating the challenges your child experiences in school on a daily basis without the services or personnel that support your child through the average school day. So, how can you best help your child in these circumstances? My biggest piece of advice would be this…search for ways to incorporate easy accommodations that allow your child to access and show their knowledge without changing the curriculum set before them. Here are some ideas of what that may look like:

Difficulties in Reading (reading content for comprehension)

  • Read content to your child
  • Get content on audio
    • Learning Ally has textbooks on audio as well as recreational reading. Sign up through DRC and get a discount!
    • Audible has many free books children can download and listen to now while schools are closed.
    • Don’t forget your public libraries. They have thousands of ebooks and audio books to checkout as well. 
  • If content is online, use the Chrome extension Read and Write
    • In Appleton Area School District, this extension is already installed on students’ Chromebooks.

Difficulties with Writing

  • If needing to complete a worksheet, consider the app SnapType 
    • Download on a phone or tablet. You take a picture of the worksheet and then type answers instead of writing them.
  • Use dictation software
    • Google Docs has this as a free option under Tools>Voice Typing.
  • Eliminate note-taking
    • Consider asking your child’s teacher for notes, or use technology like a Livescribe Smartpen.
  • If students want to type, use word prediction software (ex: Co-Writer, Read and Write)
  • Write or type for them as long as you are writing exactly what they say.

Memory Difficulties

  • Ask 2 choice questions instead of open-ended questions
  • Use visuals whenever possible such as:
    • Graphic organizers
    • Pictures
    • Charts
    • Tables, etc.

Remember, giving a child accommodations is not a crutch, a short cut, or unfair. It is not changing the curriculum, rather it is giving the student the tools necessary to fairly access the content and then prove mastery of it while they are working at solidly acquiring their language skills through tutoring.  I’ve heard it said that accommodations are similar to glasses. Is it right to ask two students, one visually impaired and one not, to read the board and then quiz them on the information without the use of glasses? Of course not. Glasses don’t change the information students are expected to know. They simply provide the student with equal access to the same information.