Dyslexic children often appear unmotivated, distant. They lack the same drive the other kids naturally posses. According to research done by San Jose State University, dyslexic children are often perceived as lazy and slow.
Taking a deeper look, it makes sense. People generally tend to steer clear from things we are not good at. We are motivated by things we do well and discouraged by things we don’t. We are often afraid of being perceived as failures, which leads us to the conclusion that not trying is safer than trying and failing. And it is one thing when we decide not to try skateboarding because we might fall, but a completely different story when a dyslexic child decides he can’t read very well, so he won’t.
Reading Is A Fundamental Skill
Meet Anna. Anna is your typical schoolgirl. She is seven years old, has long, brown hair and likes chocolate pudding. Except, she is not a typical schoolgirl. Anna is dyslexic. She is quiet, shy and really, really hates reading.
And that would be completely fine, lots of people prefer audiobooks to the written word. But Anna is 7. And even if you ignore all the benefits you get from reading like reduced stress, improved memory, and improved analytical thinking, reading is still a fundamental skill. Anna needs to read in order to learn. And at seven years old, she still needs to learn a lot.
There are three ways a child can learn to read: Practice, practice, and practice.
So the main issue is: How do we motivate Anna to practice?
There have been a lot of studies done on the topic of dyslexia. They differ a lot, but most agree on one thing: A dyslexic child is not stupid. Sure, it may take more time for Anna to develop her reading skills, but dyslexia is not in any way related to intelligence quotient (IQ). Anna is probably shy because she is smart enough to understand her lack of reading skills. She is aware, that this somehow makes her different.
We have to understand that dealing with a dyslexic child who is learning to read will require a lot of patience. While some children are naturally motivated to read, Anna will need more time to connect the dots. To understand that d is d and b is not q. And until she can understand that difference, she will feel like she is not like other children, like she is somehow different, like she isn’t as capable as others.
We must remain patient and let her learn at her own pace. There will be days when Anna won’t read a single word and other days when she might be willing to at least try. Praise her on a good day, but don’t ever punish her on a bad one. There is nothing more destructive for motivation than getting punished for trying something you are already bad at.
No Blame, Just Ideas
Talking about destructive… Do not blame your dyslexic child if he or she does not want to read. No one blames you if you don’t want to climb a mountain because you are afraid of heights.
Instead, try a creative approach. Several innovative methods can make reading easier for your child. Like sequential learning, which focuses on a sequence of letters and learning by hearing, which focuses on the sounds.
Anna, for example, solved a lot of her issues with Kobi — an award-winning mobile app made to help dyslexic children learn to read with ease. Kobi focuses on a visual approach that helps connect letter to colors, which speeds up the learning process up to 129,72% and helps with motivation instantly.
Support Your Dyslexic Child
All our children need support. But Anna especially so. Chances are, Anna, is being bullied because she appears slow and lazy. And the last thing you want to do is to reinforce that feeling. So instead of criticizing your dyslexic child, show him your support. Show him that his opinion matters, that you value his intellect and that there is absolutely nothing wrong about learning to read taking a bit more time.
Ultimately, Anna will have to feel at ease when reading in order to practice. So make her feel at ease. Remove any pressure, give your dyslexic child a bit of space or encourage him with a word game like Shiritori.
Do Not Compare A Dyslexic Child To Others
Last, but not least, do not ever compare your dyslexic child to his peers. “Look at Christine, she is a year younger than you and she loves reading”, is not a helpful sentence for your dyslexic child. As we have established, Anna is not stupid. She can see her progress in comparison to her peers. She knows, she is falling behind. So a comparison only makes her want to crawl under the bed and stay there for the rest of her life. Or at least until she is seriously craving some chocolate pudding.
Instead, focus on building on what the child learned. Did he master the d’s and the b’s? Good, extend that knowledge onto q’s and p’s the next day.
Do not compare the dyslexic’s learning curve to other children’s learning curve. The finishing line is the same, but the curve is a lot steeper for a dyslexic child.
And who knows, chances are, your child just might become a stronger person as a result.
Andrej Persolja is a growth-hacker and a co-founder of Hopalai, the maker of Kobi application. Kobi is a mobile app that helps children learn to read. It is carefully crafted for children with reading dissabilities, such as dyslexia.
Kobi for Android: bit.ly/kobi-play
Kobi for iOS: http://bit.ly/kobi-appstore