Saturday, August 29, 2009


Now, is the time for parents to start helping children get ready to start back to school. For children with dyslexia, this task may be more worrying than it is for others. Many children with dyslexia find it difficult to keep up with their school friends and suffer embarrassment due to their poor reading skills. For these children, the idea of facing another school year in competition with classmates can be very stressful.

Your child may become anxious at the idea of returning to school – be prepared to spend time to discuss and listen to his/ her worries.

Return to a normal school bedtime routine:
A few days before school begins start to send your child to bed earlier each night in preparation for starting back to school.

Arrange a meeting or outing with one of your child’s school friends before the end of the holiday.This will help to ease the transition to school and to make your child feel more at ease.

Before school starts, try to create a postive attitude about starting school. Often children enjoy buying stationary for school etc .This can be a way to get them in the right frame of mind for school ,by shopping for materials and new school uniform.

The biggest struggle for dyslexic children is often to get organized.

Help your child by :

Using book covers to color-code textbooks and notebooks to help them quickly select the right book in the classroom.

Buying an extra set of textbooks in case your child forgets to bring home the correct books he needs for his/ her homework.

Discussing and agreeing on a homework routine with your son or daughter in preparation for starting school.

Friday, August 14, 2009


My son recently broke his finger,unfortunately !! Not only did it put a stop all to sporting activities ,he also couldn’t write !! As part of his school assignment for the holidays he has to write a diary.Since he can’t write by hand I have encouraged him to write his diary ‘one fingered’ on the computer !!! This has prompted me to research typing tutor programmes available ….

In a world which is now geared to computers it is an advantage if students learn to touch type properly. In addition ,for a dyslexic child good word processing skills can be a life saver !! Computer skills will especially be useful to your son or daughter as they get older, for longer assignments that they will have to do in school, college or university.

It is best if children start to learn early how to touch type, before any bad habits develop.

There is a wide range of typing tutor programmes available ,for all ages, some of which are free.Mavis Beacon is a widely used and well known programme.

Learning to touch type does take quite a bit of time and effort. You could get your child to practice keyboarding skills approximately 10 minutes a day, especially during the holidays.

Some useful information about typing programmes:

Reviews : Typing Tutors - an article from iansyst.Ltd
An overview of typing tutors that are particularly suitable for use with children and adults who have dyslexia.

The British Dylexia Association BDA has a useful article about keyboard awareness and typing skills :

AbilityNet is a national charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology.

For a useful factsheet from AbilityNet called :
Keyboarding and Touch Typing for Children ( pdf)

Go to :

‘Kids Software Reviews : Typing programs’
A resource for choosing a typing programme.

Here are two typing tutor programmes which teach in a fun way and that are aimed at kids :

Nessy Fingers uses the alphabet to teach keyboard skills unlike other typing tutors that start with the 'home row'. It is particularly suitable for young children. A free demo download is available.

Dance Mat Typing is a free online typing tutorial from the BBC.It has fun characters and voices which will appeals to younger children.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


All parents of dyslexic children have to help their children a lot. As I know from personal experience, if you are a parent who is living abroad either as a ex-pat or you have permanantly relocated to another country, you will have to support your child even more so !!

The knowledge of dyslexia and the support given by schools will vary from country to country. In Turkey ,where I live dyslexia awareness is generally poor amongst teachers and parents, alike. Support and help as a result is also limited and sketchy.

Some languages maybe easier to learn than English so this can be an advantage to your child. For example, Turkish is a phonetic language and also is fairly regular in terms of grammar rules.

Your child however may well find it a hard having to learn two languages rather than just one.

Problems faced

Parents have to familiarize themselves with an education system that they have no previous knowledge or experience of.

Educational methods and approaches maybe different from their own country .For example, the Turkish education system is very much textbook based ,with a lot of emphasis on rote learning. It is generally not very ‘dyslexia friendly ‘ !! European countries which are in the EU maybe better.

Parents often feel alone with the problem as they do not know anyone who is in a similar situation as themselves.

As a parent you will have to help your child with a language which is not your native language .If your own language skills are not strong enough you may feel guilty that you can't help your child enough.

You may find it difficult to obtain and find the right help for your child eg pyschologists, private teachers who are appropriately qualified about dyslexia.

There are a lot of teaching materials available in English to help dyslexic students. However, many countries may have limited resources ,like Turkey.

Many ex-pats will send their children to International schools. Some schools may have provision for special needs kids , but not all do. Many international schools allow parents to bring in learning support assistants to work alongside children in the classroom. Parents generally have to pay for the specialists themselves.

Advice to parents moving or living abroad

Learn as much as you can about dyslexia so you can help your son or daughter.

Consider taking a course which teaches you strategies to help your son or daughter with their dyslexia – there are some correspondence or online courses available.

Research the country you are going to before you leave and find out what is available. Many countries have dyslexia associations eg Singapore , Kuwait ,Luxemborg.etc You can generally find that they have a web site. You could contact them for help.

Many countries have their own International associations for ex-pats
- you could make contact with them to see if any of their members have children with learning disabilities or order to share information.

If there is no association or network group you could try to set up your own !!

If you are sending your child to an International school check out if they have provisions for dyslexic children.Find out the qualifications of the specialist staff , if they have any. Try to contact other parents to find out their experiences of that school.

If teaching materials are limited try to make your own by adapting materials . For example, you can make your own flashcards or games such as bingo .

Try to look for a local private teacher to help you if you are struggling with helping your child with the language.

I decided not to try to teach my son to read English until he had mastered Turkish as I thought he might get more confused if he was taught both at the same time.At the moment Turkish is more important for him in his school life so I decided to concentrate on this language initially.

If you feel alone make contact with other people in a similar situation to yourself , via a online forum.

Try to do the best for your son /daughter but don’t beat yourself up too much …. Remember all you can do is try your best !!

Useful Resources

The Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO).
The Educational Support Committee of FAWCO prepared a report on Students Who Learn Differently which is on the internet.

Dyslexia Action is the UK's major dyslexia organisation for the training of specialist dyslexia teachers.
It runs a course called : Alpha to Omega: The Hornsby Course in Dyslexia and Literacy .

Direct Learning UK offers a distance learning multimedia course which provides practical training and techniques for how to teach a child who is, or may be,dyslexic, either in school or at home.

Dyslexia International - for a list of country by country contacts

They also have a useful brochure in pdf form - called 'Here and there' for parents.

The BDA ( British Dyslexia Association) has a list of world-wide dyslexia contacts.

World Dyslexia Network Foundation

European Dyslexia Association

The International Book of Dyslexia: A Guide to Practice and Resources

Ian Smythe, John Everatt,Robin Salter ISBN: 978-0-471-49646-5
Are difficulties in dyslexia the same the world over? Over 50 countries are included in this guide, together with details of dyslexia associations and resources.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Many children with dyslexia struggle to learn to tell the time easily.
Dyslexics especially have problems telling the time on a clock with hands:

They may be able to tell whole hours and half hours (5:00, 5:30, etc.) but not smaller chunks, such as 8.04.
They often find it difficult to distinguish between the minute and hour hands.
Concepts such as before ( to )and after (past) on a clock are confusing for them.

As a parent there are several ways you can help them to learn to tell the time.

You could buy a teaching watch for your child. I obtained one which is produced by ELC ( Early Learning Centre) from Leonardinis.This watch has different coloured hands – for the minute hand and for the hour hand. There are a set of numbers for the minutes as well as for the hours.Also the watch face has ‘past’ and ‘to’ written on it in different colours.All these things make it easier for your child to tell the time.

When I go out with my child I make him the ’official time keeper’ – and ask him at frequent intervals what the time is in order that he practices !!!

In addition there are many online free games which children can do to practice telling the time .
In a previous blog entry I wrote about online maths computer games,including ones to practice telling the time.

I found a very good puzzle by Larsen . The child has to match the correct clock faces to the right time.The puzzle contains 42 different clock faces with both the 12 and 24 hour time written on it.
This is available in Turkish as well as English.I bought mine from the Toyzz shop.
You could also make your own matching clock face game if you wanted.

I found an interesting article Charlottes clock taken from the Special Children Magazine,issue 166, May/June 2005 ,which is written by a mother of a child with special needs.In this article she explains how she approached teaching the time to her child. The techniques she described could be used with a dyslexic child.


Especially during a long school holiday it is difficult to motivate your dyslexic child to carry out reading and school work. As I know from experience ,it is easy to get into a battle with your child over school assignments given during the holiday.As a parent you know that is crucial children go over skills learnt but often it is difficult to get your child to stick to a schedule !! One option is to use a reward chart to help motivate your child.


A reward chart is an tool to encourage your child to carry out a certain task eg completing homework , checking their school bag every evening . When a child performs the desired behavior, it gets marked off on their chart. After enough checks, the child receives a reward.


They can help to stop the cycle of arguing and telling off that it is so easy to fall into as parents. A reward chart provides a really positive way (using encouragement and praise) to encourage good behaviour, for example to get your child to complete homework tasks on time .

You can either buy or make a reward chart . On the internet you can find reward chart templates. ( search under free printable behaviour sheets )

In Turkey they are not so easy to find but I did manage to buy one produced by the ELC ( Early Learning Centre) from Leonardini .


Get creative and make a chart together with your child based on something your child likes eg Ben Ten, Sponge Bob ...

On a large piece of card write down on the side a list of all the things you want to reward your child on .

Across the top have each day of the week.

Then at the bottom of each day note a reward they will get if he complete the tasks .

Also, if you wish, to make a note of a big reward the will get if they complete all the tasks for the whole week. This will give them a goal to work towards.

Buy or make some stickers to put on the chart.

Get your chart laminated so that you can re-use it .


Trip to the cinema, a new toy, cook their favourite meal, bake a cake etc, a new book or magazine, later bedtime, trip to the zoo or museum.
You could even ask your child to give some suggestions ( within reason !!).

N.B Don't just make the treats all of monetary value.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Learning to Read and Reading to Learn’

The first step a child at school must make is to learn to read and once they have done this they read to in order to learn…

Slow readers and dyslexic children if they are not given sufficient support at the first step will as a result struggle with the second step...

When children are first taught to read in Turkey they learn to read syllables. As they progress they learn to recognise and say the word as a whole, although longer more difficult words may be broken down into syllables.
Dyslexic readers find it difficult automatically recognise words. Whereas an average child will need to see a word 4- 10 times for automatic recognition – a child who is dyslexic may need to come across that word more than 40 times. For this reason constant practice is essential.

In the school setting all children generally often get insufficient reading practice, apart from reading their text books. Also nowadays at home because of the lures of the TV, internet and play stations children tend to read less and less !
For this reason parents need to play an active role to encourage child to read and to improve their reading skills. This is specially crucial for a dyslexic child in order that they can catch up with their peers.

How to Choose an Appropriate Book

First impressions
The books should look attractive

Subject choice
Don’t go for books, which are easy to read, but whose stories are babyish and boring. Choose an exciting story . Consider your childs interests - for example, if he is interested in football choose a book connected to this theme.Don’t limit yourself to just books – choose comics,magazines,etc.In fact anything your child might want to read.

Font Size
The writing should not be too small or too big.


Avoid books where the vocabulary is too complicated.

Style – keep it simple!
Look for a simple and direct style.Avoid books with long complicated sentence structures full of sub- clauses.

Read several books written by the same author, as it’s easier to guess what’s coming next if the style is a familiar one.

Keep it short!
Your child may have a short concentration span for this reason choose books that are short, exciting and satisfying and that match the interests of your child. Short stories can be more rewarding for dyslexic readers, who will gain confidence from finishing a book. Also choose books with short chapters.

Eye – catching, age-appropriate illustrations will help to encourage young readers to read the book. It will also help to explain difficult words and identify characters.

The book should be not too hard for your child to read.

How can I tell if a book is too hard ? – The Five Finger Test.

Encourage your child to test a page of any book before reading it. Let your child put a finger on each word he cannot read. If more that five fingers are used on any one page,he will not be able to read it without help.

Tips to help your child.

Read to your child on a regular basis,sharing the enjoyment of a good story. This is important because it introduces him to a much wider vocabulary and also you can act as a good role model for reading.

Visit libraries and bookshops with your child. Encourage your child to like books.

Set aside a time for reading each day when you can be alone and undisturbed with your child.

Remember dyslexic kids have good days and bad days. You may find that their reading ability can fluctuate a lot.

Summer holidays are very long in Turkey – so make sure you maintain reading practice during this period.

Keep a record of the books your child reads – make bookmarks,prepare a blog, take photos.. This helps to show what your child has achieved.

Once your child can read by himself , each day your child should practice a minimum of 10 minutes reading out loud and 10 mins of silent reading.

Read aloud reading- This exercise is designed to make the child aware of both the sound and sight of the words; and their flow, as it stores both together in your memory.

Correction - When your child is reading out loud and he makes a mistake – immediately give him the correct word – don’t make him struggle sounding the word out – as it will interrupt the flow of the reading.

Silent Reading - It is more difficult to know what's going on when your child is reading silently. You will have to ask questions to monitor his comprehension after he has read silently.
For your child to be successful explain the most important words or any new vocabulary prior to his reading silently. Do some reading yourself to encourage him while he's reading silently !!!

NB Your child will have better comprehension when he reads silently.

Use a pointer- such as a pencil or your index finger, and move it along the line you are reading. Sometimes find it difficult to keep their place and also this can help to speed up their reading.

Alternative Reading Techniques you can try with your child:

Echo Reading- involves you reading one line of a story and your child repeating the same line after you have read. Increase the number of lines read at one time as the child's reading improves. Ask your child to follow the story with their finger to be sure he/she is looking at the words. Let your child read first with easy materials.

Choral Reading- involves a story that your child has read before or that is easy for him/her to read. Read the text together. Lead the reading by using expression and appropriate pacing.

Reader's Theatre is a read-aloud activity. Roles are distributed and each person reads when his/her character speaks. This should be done with easy reading materials for your child that includes conversation.

Partner Reading involves sharing reading. You read a sentence or half the page, and ask your child to read one sentence or half the page. As reading improves each partner can read an entire page or section.

Taped Stories provide good samples for listening to fluent reading. Parents could tape themselves as they read a book to their child.

When using a taped story have the child follow the text with his/her finger or read along to help with fluency. Have children tape their own stories and evaluate their reading for fluency.

Repeated Reading involves your child in reading books or stories more than once in the same week. You could also tape record your child reading orally, before and after you begin this activity – to demonstrate progress made.

Paired Reading – 1. READING TOGETHER
You and your child read the words our loud together. Make your speed as fast or as slow as your child's. Your child must read every word. If your child struggles with a word and then gets it right, show that you are pleased. Never let your child struggle for more than 5 seconds.If your child struggles for too long or gets a word wrong, then:
Just say the right word yourself, and
Make sure that your child repeats it properly.
When you are reading together your child may want to read a bit alone. You should agree on a signal for your child to tell you to be quiet. This could be a knock on the book, a wave of the hand.When your child struggles for more than 5 seconds, or struggles and gets it wrong, you say the right word for your child. Make sure that your child says it right as well.Then you both go on reading together, until your child feels good enough to read on alone again, and asks you to be quiet. You must always remember to go back to reading together when your child has had problems with a word.