My child was excited to read and now avoids it. Why?
Children come to school excited and eager to learn. If a child begins to experience difficulty in reading, the effects can cascade into years of frustration and avoidance. As grade levels progress, a student with reading difficulties must expend much more energy to complete an assignment. These students watch "good readers" complete assignments successfully with less time. The required extra effort begins to impact motivation and persistence. Reading and writing are likely viewed as frustrating, difficult and unrewarding. These students bail out of reading, before learning to read for pleasure or information.
The good news is it's not necessary to wait months or years before intervention prevents this downward spiral.
My child has dyslexia. How can I help?
First and foremost, understand that reading difficulties can be frustrating for both parents and students. Pack lots of patience, grace and forgiveness.
Homework: This is likely the leading concern when students are experiencing reading difficulties. Homework becomes unbearable as assignments take 4 or 5 times longer than intended. Tears and frustration end the day and all parties may feel let-down and defeated. The first step is to reach out to the classroom teacher. Our teachers can not fix what they are unaware of and our kiddos are often experts in masking difficulties.
Self Advocacy: In the earlier grades, this is not expected but as students mature, visit with them about how they can self-advocate in school. Encourage your child to ask the teacher when something doesn't make sense or when they simply don't understand an assignment. Students with dyslexia will experience struggles during their academic career and a self-advocacy spirit can take them a long way, avoiding frustration.
Honesty: Dyslexia is not something to be ashamed of. There's a list of dyslexic achievers your child is sure to recognize at https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/dyslexic-achievers/all-achievers/https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/dyslexic-achievers/all-achievers/. There are also you tube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_qGJ9svUbM), sharing quotes and stories from some of these individuals. Dyslexia can be found in business people, entrepreneurs, sports players, and celebrities. Personally, I think living with dyslexia teaches students GRIT, providing an avenue for success because giving up is not an option.
Reading: After a long day of learning, a student with dyslexia is often exhausted. Facing another hour of reading is simply dreadful. If a parent or someone else can read and help out, that's okay! It's actually beneficial for students to hear fluent reading and words read with expression. If your child is interested in a book "all my friends are reading" but it's too difficult, there are websites that provide audio so your child can read along. Learning Ally (https://learningally.org/) is a popular choice, a nonprofit organization that provides audio book solutions. The vocabulary exposure and perceiving that I'm not missing out on what my friends are doing is critical as students build their reading skills. Dyslexia should not be equated with punishment. As mentioned above, if homework and evenings result in more tears than not, reach out to your child's teacher so a solution may be found.
Encourage: When your child gets discouraged, listen to their frustrations. For older diagnosed students, they may have experienced years of watching others "smarter than them." Remind your child that their brain is just as smart and capable. Dyslexia is simply a different way of learning.