Dyslexia

As a tutor I work with a few children who have had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia.  Often it is the parent’s who struggle more than the child.  They wonder if or how to tell the child, what it means for their future and sometimes even what they have done wrong.  The simple answer is you know what is right for your family, but you have done nothing wrong, nothing at all.  You wouldn’t ask yourself this if your child had blue eyes or was tall, so why ask it about another fundamental part of them?  There is often a sense of relief to the child when they find out.  They realise that it is not their fault learning can be hard at times.  But there are also a range of other benefits to being dyslexia.  These can include –

Determination

It is at this stage that parents struggle to see how dyslexia has helped form their wonderful child already.  For a start, they are going to have a range of coping mechanisms already in place.  They have found what works for them and they use it.  These children are often determined and find a way to make the world work for them.

 

Spotting Links

Those with dyslexia can often see the big picture a little clearer than those without.  They can often identify the odd one out or find the thing which is out of place.  This helps them memorise and identify complex images, a great skill for engineers or scientists!

 

Thinking in Pictures

Whilst those with dyslexia can have huge verbal dictionaries they tend to think in pictures.  This can make thing lego or art a lot easier for them.

 

Business Entrepreneurial Skills

One in three entrepreneurs in the states have dyslexia.  Their brains perhaps are more strategic and creative than others and this can be a real business advantage.

 

Highly Creative

Johnny Depp, Picasso and Davi Pilkey (author of the Captain Underpants books) are just some famous creative people who have dyslexia.  Depp needs to learn his lines and Pilkey writes books, just because your child has dyslexia does not mean they are in any way restricted.  Plus, they tend to be more creative!

 

There are many more strengths of dyslexia.  It really is not a bad thing!   Have a look at the below image for an idea of some careers where dyslexia can be of benefit!

 

dyslexia strengths

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Learning Websites

I am often asked by parents which web sites they should steer this children towards.  Children often do not realise the amount of learning they are doing whilst playing online and how much it can improve their reading skills.  There is a myriad of sites out there and it is hard to know which sites are best, but let me help you by listing my favourite 10 free websites.

  1. Newsround 
  2. Dogo News

I find children are interested in their world.  Newsround and Dogo have news, facts, games and videos to help children begin to engage with current affairs.  Both these sites are similar but have slightly different outlooks.  Newsround is created by the BBC and Dogo by a mum in the USA.  However, both a relevant and a range of sources help children develop their questioning and critical literacy skills.

  1. How Stuff Works

Is your child a budding engineer?  Do they have a real interest in how things work?  Here’s a great website for them to explore and discover answers to their current questions and many more besides!

  1. Nasa

Is it space that captures your child’s attention?  This site is filled to the brim with information and games for them to play

  1. Fun Brain

This site has games in literacy, numeracy and more.  It also has online books and comics.

  1. Oxford Owl

This site is great as it has a range of free ebooks for children to enjoy.  It also has some maths activities and even tips for parents!

  1. Nat Geo Kids

Who doesn’t find the National Geographic captivating?!  They even have a kid friendly site!  It contains everything from animals to wildlife, science to nature, archaeology to geology, geography to history.  I am sure your child will find something which interests them.

  1. Top Marks

This is one that teachers will often suggest as homework.  Why?  Because it is brimming with free games which help support maths and literacy

  1. Teach Your Monster to Read

This is a great site for supporting your child’s reading, I find children adore it.

  1. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is another fascinating website for kids, it has games and fact files.  This is really a great educational resource and endlessly captivating.

 

There you have it, 10 of my favourite learning websites.  Hopefully it helps you and if you have others to share please feel free!

Why Read?

I recently posted about reading, why children may not enjoy their school reading and approaches you can take to it.  Whilst I happily state I really do not care what a child reads, whether it is games, websites, books, comics of even the Argos catalogue, I really do believe they should be reading something.  So today, we are going to explore five of the reasons why it is important to read.

  1. Vocabulary

Reading helps a child expand their vocabulary.  Think of all the different genres and the different types of words you will find in therein.  They will discover words they never knew existed and then begin to add them to their vocabulary.  How many kids love dinosaurs when they are young due to the fancy sounding names?  That magic of words never leaves you!

  1. Success

There have been studies conducted which show that children who read and were read to achieve better results all the way through to university!  Did you realise that short 15 minutes together a day could make such a difference over such a long period of time?

  1. Improvement

Children who read are exposed to different ways to write.  This can improve their writing, grammar and spelling.  I have seen whilst tutoring that improvements can be made through an increased time in reading books children enjoy.

  1. Confidence

The more you do something the easier it becomes and the more confidence you become at it.  This is true for reading!  Even reading to your child helps improve their technical reading skills.  As they grow more confident they will become more independent and be able to read alone.  This also has the advantage of keeping them occupied and out of mischief.

  1. Exploration

Reading exposes children to cultures different from their own.  It opens their eyes to the possibilities that exist in their world.  This increased understanding of others can help a child develop empathy.  So often children at young ages are playing violent games.  This can have a detrimental impact on them.  Carefully chosen books can do the opposite and help create children who care for their world.

I may have said five reasons but here is an extra one – it is free!  We are lucky in that we really do have some great libraries and they are free to borrow from.  From books to graphic novels, magazines to audio books, you can borrow them for free!  So why not get along and visit your local library?

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I don’t care what you read, just read!

As a teacher, and now as a tutor, I am often asked how a child can improve with their reading, writing, spelling or grammar.  There is always 1 simple answer to that.  Read.  Yup, you read that right, my simple answer is to read.  In my opinion, being a reader will teach you more about all these things than the best tutor or teacher can.  However, some children just do not enjoy reading. Why not and what do we do to encourage them?

So, your child gets reading homework and they hate it right?  It is a stress and you dread it.  But why might they feel that way?  I would suggest the problem is actually the books themselves.  Rarely, children get to pick their reading books.  This instantly can decrease enthusiasm for reading.  Furthermore, have you had a good look at most reading schemes within schools?  They often are not that interesting!  Would you enjoy being forced to read these books?  Can you blame your child for not wanting to read it?

What can you do?  I always tell parents that homework should not be a stress.  Children in the middle to upper primary years tend to be competent technical readers.  They have learned the skills to do this.  So, is it important that they read every word themselves?  I don’t think it is.  It is however important that they keep pace with the book, so they can complete work set by the teacher both in and out of school.  So, can you take turns reading paragraphs or pages?  Could it be their bedtime story?  Can they break the set pages down and attempt smaller chunks over several subsequent nights?

But stop a wee moment, whilst I might be saying it is ok not to read every word in their school book I am not saying do not read.  Reading is essential for children, but it must be something they enjoy.  There are many ways to get children to read without it being a book.  Do they like to cook or bake, why don’t they find the recipe and lead the way?  What about gaming? So many games have a lot of words and they do not even realise they are reading!  What about comics or magazines?  Reading really isn’t just books.  Think how often you read without it being a book, this blog for a start, Facebook, that text you just received, the care instructions on your new jumper or even the address on an envelope to make sure it is yours before you open it.  Words really are everywhere!

But if you really want to go the book route I would suggest you go to your local library, let them explore a huge range of genres for free!  From comics to magazine, novels and graphic novels, you’ll find them in there.  There are even audio books you can enjoy in the car.  If they enjoy that you can then suggest books by the same author.

So in short, I do not care what a child reads, merely that they read.