Book Excerpt: 'Overcoming Dyslexia'

How does my dyslexic child best learn content? What can I tell his teacher to facilitate his learning? A dyslexic student's route to learning is through meaning; meaning provides a framework for remembering. More than for others, he must fully understand a topic; rote memory does not work well for him. Focus on concepts and real-life examples and experiences, and provide many opportunities for practice. In this top-down, big-picture approach, teach ideas first, establish categories for different groups of facts, and point out connections within and between categories. Look for opportunities for hands-on experiences; encourage visualization of concepts and facts mentioned in texts or during class discussions. Keep in mind that though it may take longer to acquire, knowledge gained through meaning is much more enduring than that obtained through rote memorization. Motivation is critical to learning and can be strengthened by adhering to a few simple principles: First, any child, and particularly one who is dyslexic, needs to know that his teacher cares about him. Second, motivation is increased by a child's having a sense of control, such as a choice about assignments-which book he will read or what topic he will report on. Third, he needs some recognition of how hard he is working as well as tangible evidence that all his effort makes a difference; this can come in the form of improvement on a graph of his fluency rates or receiving a grade on the content of his written work rather than its form.

What books or stories can I read to a dyslexic child? While a child is still struggling with reading, it helps to spend even as little as fifteen to twenty minutes each evening reading aloud to him; this can be either a story or a chapter of a book. Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud, edited by Jim Trelease, includes a particularly enjoyable collection of stories for children aged five to nine (grades kindergarten to four). Read All About It! by the same author is intended for preteens and teens. Listening to stories will help a child retain his interest in reading and in books, and will expose him to the vocabulary and ideas he would be getting himself if he were reading. Keep in mind that a dyslexic child's ability to understand what he hears is often years ahead of his ability to read.

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