As a parent of a dyslexic child, or any child that is struggling, you may feel like a juggler. So many issues up in the air it's hard to know what to focus on. Stress can build up and leave you reacting to what seems to be the most important issue at hand. And that is often reading.
Backing up and looking at things more holistically can be of benefit. and writing, both handwriting and the logical thinking behind writing, is the place to look.
Dyslexia Affects More Than Reading
Children with dyslexia spend a lot of time and energy learning to read and write. These are not passive learning activities for children with dyslexia. They require far more work. They require building up foundational skills. And they require a little grit.
Frequently, parents and educators believe dyslexia affects reading and comprehension only. However, the ability to write is also affected by Dyslexia. Dyslexia is an expression of weaknesses in certain foundational learning skills. Those weaknesses can also express themselves in many other ways. Writing, math, spelling
A difficulty in writing is referred to as dysgraphia. Dyslexia and dysgraphia can come in pairs because they are simply different expressions in differences or weaknesses in the components of learning. These weaknesses or differences cause difficulty in language processing and writing is a part of language processing. Much can be done to strengthen these components. We use the Learning Success System to do so.
As a teacher discovers the student’s learning achievement, she will likely see a discrepancy in the student’s oral abilities versus how the student expresses themselves on paper. This is due to the specific combination of micro-skill weaknesses that child may have. There are three categories of these learning micro-skills, Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
Dyslexia is a General Term, Not a Specific Diagnosis
Because dyslexia is only a general term that describes a difficulty in language processing skills, The diagnosis in no way defines which of these micro-skills are at play. It only says that there is a problem. Every child with Dyslexia displays different symptoms and severity of symptoms. Every child will have their own unique differences in micro-skill weaknesses and strengths. And some may not be entirely evident or be detected by tests. For this reason, it is best to work on all of the foundational micro-skills.
Common Writing Problems
Despite the differences, you may see some common symptoms in writing. They are listed as follows:
1. Writing events out of sequence
2. Run-on sentences
3. No spacing between words or inappropriately spaced
4. No or little use of punctuation
5. Frequent spelling errors
From my experience as a teacher, students become engrossed in learning to read and understand each word. Yet they are perplexed as to why their written essays, book reports, journal entries need to be so neat and perfect— essentially following the rules of grammar.
As a teacher, I start with basic understanding and practice of grammar. We usually work on one aspect at a time. For example, capitalization, we discuss the rules of capitalization; I point out words in their reading books that are capitalized and when writing that is the only rule I require them to adhere to. We do this until they have mastered capitalization. Then we start the task of learning a new rule such as punctuation.
Key Tactic #1
Attacking only one rule at a time.
Another aspect I like to focus strongly on is writing organization, teaching the student to write a proper beginning, middle, and end. I will have the student start out telling me their book report orally, and then we will together create an outline or use a graphic organizer. (Search on Pinterest using the phrase: writing graphic organizers) and you will find many helpful examples.
Key Tactic #2
Express ideas orally First
Key Tactic #3
Create an outline
This important first step will help your student map out their writing and prevent writer’s block, incomplete assignments, and not adhering to the assignment requirements.
Tactics 1,2, and 3 help develop the underlying rules and structure of writing. The logical and language parts. The other part to address is the connection between the hand eyes and brain. To develop these connections stronger you will want to work both on gross motor skills as well as fine motor skills. Cross lateral motions, also known as bilateral coordination exercises, are especially helpful because they strengthen the corpus callosum, the connector between the brain hemispheres. There is a strong correlation between proprioception (our awareness of our body in space) and writing ability. Physical exercises that are cross lateral, have a strong posture and require body awareness can be especially helpful and can help with emotional issues as well.
Do Bilateral Coordination Exercises
Finer muscle coordination can be developed through fun exercises such as coloring books or many childhood games such as cats cradle.
Use coloring books and other kids games to help develop finer motor skills.
In my classroom and with my children at home, I like to integrate technology when it benefits the child or enhances their lessons from school. Technology should not be used as a crutch but can be a short term accomodation or learning enhancement.
There are many great apps out there, but I will highlight a few.
I like the ABC Writing app. It provides the student the opportunity to write words and letters. Additionally, the child can hear the word spelled letter by letter and the entire word. Like most apps, it’s colorful with music and different color pens to write with.
I love for my students with Dyslexia or any learning disability to use Toontastic (a free app). This app allows a student to create their own cartoons. The app helps the child go through the whole writing organization process, writing, and publishing of their cartoon.
Key Tactic #6
Use technology where applicable
Notice Small Successes
As a teacher and mom, I know it's important to celebrate the small milestones with your child with Dyslexia. Start out simple and slow. Continue adding more skills as they master each step.
Save your child's writing samples. Make sure to date them. Every so often bring them out and compare. Even if the changes are small that is fine. Small changes lead to big changes over time. The secret to making that happen is acknowledging and celebrating those successes.
Key Tactic #7
Notice and celebrate the every small success
When helping a child with dyslexia we may tend to focus on the reading skills. Sometimes we neglect to think about the writing skills.
However writing is not only important, it's all connected. We can see small successes in writing skills pour over into other areas. such as reading. Since developing writing skills may be easier and faster it can be a good idea to put some focus here. This well-rounded approach can lead to faster success in overcoming dyslexia problems. That is why the Learning Success System takes such a diverse approach. Because building up skills from all angles is often the only approach that works.
Do You Need help with a Learning Difficulty?
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Understanding how to help someone with a learning difficulty starts with understanding which micro-skills are affected. When you learn which of the micro-skills is the problem, you will then be on your way to solving it.
You'll also learn how to:
- Build confidence
- Enhance Learning ability
- Eliminate avoidance
- Build grit
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