What Parents Can Do at Home to Help Improve Reading With a Student With Dyslexia
K-1st Grader Reading Suggestions
Students should be able to recognize and name all the letters. No later than the end of the first nine weeks of first grade students should be able to associate letters with their sounds. In many schools that expectation is in kindergarten.
- “What words begin with the same sound as ball?”
- Make up zany sentences together that all start with the same sound.
- Play I Spy. “I spy something that begins with t.”
- Put word labels all around your child’s room and the house. Post-it notes work well.
- Play, I’m Going on a Picnic and in my Basket I will Pack a (something that begins with a, and then b, then c, etc.).
Show your child how to blend words
- Teach the h digraphs ch, sh, th, wh, ph, and gh
- Teach the -ing ending
- Explain long vowel combinations of ea, ee, ai, us
- Begin exploring syllabication
- Read picture books. Point to the words so your child understands the word-sound correspondence.
- Rereading books helps children learn the words.
2nd Grader Reading Suggestions
Reading at the second grade level is more than just pronouncing words – meaning suddenly becomes much more important.
- Model self-questioning as you read out loud to your child: “I wonder what will happen next.” “I wonder what he means by that.” “I wonder what the word honor means.”
- Help your child find a purpose in everything read.
- Encourage your child to make story predictions while reading.
- Compare and contrast stories you have read together.
- Talk about the causes and effects in stories.
- Help your child use critical reading skills to infer meaning and figure out what is happening.
- Help your child expand and improve their vocabulary.
Reading Suggestions for all Grades
Even if you have stopped reading out loud to your child, there is no reason you cannot start it again. Children that read alone often learn to skip over words and ideas that are not familiar to them or seem hard. When you are reading together it is the perfect time to ask a question or illustrate an idea. There are great books to read out loud that are above your child’s independent reading level but may be just right for their listening comprehension and intellectual levels.
If your child is stumbling while reading words, or reading word by word is in sense painful, get help. The National Panel on Reading remarked in their groundbreaking report 20 years ago that if a child has a difficult time reading and reading support and instruction has not shown improvement in thirty days, have them tested as they may have a learning disability.
Paired Reading Helps Speed of Reading
At home, try paired reading. Read an easier book than your child can successfully read together out loud. Both of you read together out loud. If your child is unsure of a word hearing you pronounce it takes some pressure off of your child. You set the pace of reading. Read slightly quicker than your child so that your child begins to read a little faster. Take turns reading (remember all of this reading is done out loud). Remember this technique is only started after your child can read the words on the page.
Making sure your child can read the words on the page is the first step in helping your child be able to understand what is read.
The panel found that the research conducted to date strongly supports the concept that explicitly and systematically teaching children to manipulate phonemes significantly improves children’s reading and spelling abilities. The evidence for this is still so clear-cut that this method should be an important component of classroom reading instruction.
The greatest improvements in reading were seen from systematic phonics instruction. This type of phonics instruction consists of teaching a planned sequence of phonics elements, rather than highlighting elements of phonics as they happen to appear in a text. Here again, the evidence was so strong that the panel concluded that systematic phonics instruction is appropriate for all routine classroom instruction.
For children with learning disabilities, and children who are low achievers, systematic phonics instruction, combined with synthetic phonics instruction produced the greatest gains. Synthetic phonics instruction consists of teaching students to explicitly convert letters into phonemes and then blend the phonemes to form words.
If you only have short bursts of time, try reading an article from the newspaper or a poem. Leave reading material everywhere including magazines, joke books and even art books.
By the time children reach the third grade, if they have the basic skills of reading then the difference in good and poor understanding is frequently background knowledge and/or the use of reading strategies. Students must have a purpose for reading then set the pace according to that purpose.
Sending email to your child encourages reading along with strengthening the relationship with your child. Tucking notes in their lunch, etc. allows not only the connection but quick reading and even vocabulary development.