How to help children succeed with dyslexia

Resources for parents

Mother and child hugging
Credit to Ketut Subiyanto
Mother and son working with dyslexia app

What does success with dyslexia look like?

Success is not just about learning to read and spell perfectly. It’s also about children finding confidence and trust in themselves. This is what we want to explore in this section of the site. Here you will find resources to support you as a parent: frequently asked questions, inspiration, guides and ideas on how to help children succeed with dyslexia.

Much of children’s success depends on parents not just supporting their learning needs, but also helping them apprehend their situation adequately. This means understanding the source of their struggle, addressing the fact that things are more difficult for them, and realizing that they are more than their difficulty.

How to explain dyslexia to my child?

Helping children with dyslexia understand why they struggle with reading is a key step on the path to your child successfully dealing with their learning difficulty.

But explaining dyslexia to a child can be a tough conversation to have. Your child will likely be very aware of their reading difficulties if they have started learning how to read at school.

Mother and son looking at information on dyslexia on a computer
Credit to Julia M Cameron

Despite their awareness, every child will react differently. Some may find their diagnosis to be something positive, since it offers an explanation to the difficulties they face on a daily basis. Others might feel shame in being different to their classmates.They may find their reading challenges makes them stand out, and they can struggle with being perceived as ‘different’ or with requiring ‘special attention’. In this case, it is important to emphasise that even though they learn differently, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them.

It is up to you to choose how to approach this topic. While putting a strong focus on the positives of dyslexia, it is also important to prepare them for what difficulties they should expect.

Dyslexia is challenging, and despite their strengths in creativity, visualisation, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills, many still struggle with reading, spelling, and other secondary problems (e.g. poor organisation and memory, requiring extra effort and energy to complete reading-related tasks, problems with sequences).

So what is the best way to explain dyslexia to your child?

Explain what dyslexia is

You can do some research to build your own understanding of dyslexia, or take a look at some of the resources we have available. It may also be helpful to mention how common dyslexia is, to make sure they don’t feel alone. The British Dyslexia Association estimates that around 1 in 10 people have dyslexia.

Let them know how school will help

Now that you have identified their reading difficulties, it will be much easier to work together with teachers to help your child learn in a way that suits their learning requirements. Make them aware that their school is there to help, and that they will take their reading struggles into account.

Tell them you are there to support them, every step of the way

By demonstrating your awareness about their struggles and difficulties, you can help them to feel more comfortable to come to you to ask for support and guidance. Believing in your child helps them to believe in themselves.

Talk to them about what the future might look like​

You might need to make them aware that certain things will be challenging for them, but that they will find a path they love and builds on their strengths. Give them a few examples of successful dyslexics to help keep them inspired and confident in themselves. ​

Keep it as an on-going dialogue

Help your child feel comfortable with sharing their challenges with you, so you can work through them together. Always remember to remind them about what they are doing well in. Helping them to find a hobby or a sport they enjoy, to help boost their confidence and self esteem.

Dyslexia and mental health: things to consider to help your child

It is not unusual for children to get to a point where all they can see is their difficulty. They are confronted with it every day, and are very conscious that they struggle more than others. But we don’t think we should let learning struggles define who a child is. Children need a little help to look beyond below-average school results, and see that they are great in other ways.

There is a growing body of research showing that dyslexic children, and more broadly children who are poor readers are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and emotional troubles. Many of these issues start with poor self-perception, and comparing themselves to peers. They emerge out of children’s lack of understanding for why they struggle more than their friends.

This shows the importance of communicating with neurodivergent children so they can better appreciate their situation. Building confidence and self-esteem is important for any child, and particularly so with children who are poor readers. These children often work harder to reach their goals. In fact, overcoming dyslexia makes young adults resilient for life. And this is also what we hear from many parents: supporting their children’s learning needs is one thing, but helping children with dyslexia succeed also requires working on their self-image, self-confidence and belief in their gifts and abilities.

Find related articles on our blog:

Why your child may feel less smart - when they really aren't

It is a myth that dyslexia is linked to under-average intelligence. In reality, there is no correlation between IQ and dyslexia, meaning dyslexics are just as likely to have an average or an above average IQ.

However, because dyslexic children tend to struggle at school from an early age, it may appear to teachers and parents that they are more than a struggling reader, especially if a dyslexia diagnosis has not yet been made. It is therefore important for dyslexics to be made aware that their reading challenges are not related to their intelligence.

This is also why it is crucial to identify dyslexia and to implement the appropriate interventions as early as possible, such as extra support at school and home, making use of assistive technology, and other remedial measures.

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