Dyslexia Support: How to Help a Struggling Reader

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Overcoming reading difficulties can feel like a daunting task. But with the right approach dyslexia can be helped. Here's how.

Overcoming reading difficulties can feel like a daunting task. Dyslexic children need a lot of support both from their teachers as well as their parents in order to thrive. The good news is, that dyslexia can be helped. In the right environment, with the right support, dyslexics can grow to become awe-inspiring human beings.

Dyslexia symptoms include having difficulties reading, having problems processing and understanding what the person heard or read, having difficulties finding words or answering questions.

Other research also found correlations between dyslexia and the ability to learn sequences, problems with memorizing directions, and poor handwriting.


People forget, dyslexics are often more creative, have the ability to see a bigger picture, and have an incredible ability to process visual data. Yes, dyslexics might need more support from the environment than others, but they can grow up into amazing and productive members of society.

A lot of difficulties, associated with dyslexia, only come in effect AFTER a child is told there is something wrong with them. Things like shyness, the tendence to avoid reading and the feeling of being inadequate or stupid are all produced by the society (or the environment) we live in.

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When a child reads slower than their peers, the first thing the school tells you is: “We have noticed a problem with your child. All of the other kids’ dots are here, but your kid’s is over there, far below others. There is something wrong with your kid.” Obviously, the kid will start to feel bad about themselves.

Wouldn’t it be great, if the school would say something like: “We have noticed your kid does not like the way we teach reading. We are starting a different approach with them and everything will work out.”

Would the kid still feel inadequate? Or stupid? Somehow I don’t think so.

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Why Learning To Read In School Doesn’t Work For Dyslexics

As we have seen in the opening paragraphs of this article, most of the issues dyslexics have are related to memorizing things.

And yes, you have guessed. The schools often rely on memorizing words in order to teach reading. The method is called ‘the whole-word approach’ to reading and it works really well for 70% of students. Unfortunately, dyslexics are not in that group. And when things inevitably go wrong, the school tries to support kids with dyslexia by repeating what doesn’t work for another year or two. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this won’t have a happy ending.

Phonics-Based Approach To Reading

There is another method to learning to read. It is based on phonics. Phonics methods are based on sounds that are produced when spelling out letters and letter combinations. Unlike the whole-word approach, it doesn’t need as much memorising in order to work.

Instead, it teaches the kids a system they can use to learn reading and form new words.

Find out more about Phonics in Learn To Read Guide For Parents

The system works for all the kids. Two out of three kids who learn to read automatically, do not have a problem with either approach (whole-word or phonics) and would learn to read anyway. But the phonics approach is far better suited to support dyslexia kids. That is why it is more and more often used in private schools, as well as by Orton-Gillingham and Burton programs for dyslexics.

How To Support A Struggling Reader

The best thing you can do without having to move schools is to try teaching your kid to read at home. Support your kid with dyslexia by giving them the additional reading practice they need to become skilled readers. Before you start gasping for air, thinking about how you don’t have the necessary skills to do this, let us reassure you.

Any parent is capable of supporting their dyslexic kid. You can teach your kid to read through fun and games. Show your kid reading can be fun and that there is nothing wrong with them because they are reading a bit slower than their peers.

Your first task?

Download the Learn To Read: A Comprehensive Guide For Parents and get an easy-to-read e-book that will help you turn your struggling kid into an avid reader.