It’s tempting to give children a break from reading and writing over the summer holidays, and in some ways they do need to relax from the structured learning of a school environment. Dyslexic children in particular will appreciate a change of approach away from the classroom. However, once they are back at school, it is equally important to keep the momentum going at home too, albeit in a more fun way.
This not only helps dyslexic children understand how they interpret words and letters, but also helps parents spot the early signs of dyslexia in undiagnosed children. Spotting these signs early can greatly speed up the necessary support interventions that can be accessed to ensure they reach their full potential despite their difficulties.
My Reading Bingo!
Here’s just a few ideas that work at any time at home and away from school.
Make up a card like this one.
You can fill the squares according to your own child’s abilities so some groups are easier than others – we want them to enjoy reading after all. Over a few days they should be able to complete the four corners or a row and who knows in a month they may get a full house with some careful guidance.
What’s great about the bingo card is that it’s rewarding and can be completed at the child’s own pace. They shouldn’t feel pressured to do it, but can see the reward when they do.
Matching word games for dyslexic children
Here’s another one that needs a little more input from you or another guardian. It focuses on recognition of word shapes and sounds, and has some great variations depending on the ability of the child in question. Dyslexic children will find some aspects of this challenging but they will soon get to grips with it and will find a variation that works well for them.
In its most straightforward version, fill some index cards with pairs of words that the child is using at the moment – either from their spelling sheets or a book they are reading. You could even encourage the child to write one of the pair of words as you show them. Then shuffle the cards and lay them on the table or floor.
You then take it in turns to reveal two cards at random. If they are a matching pair, you get to keep the cards, if not you remember where they were and turn them back over again. If the child has trouble recognising a word, say the word for them rather than asking the child to “sound out” the word. The purpose of this game is to build automatic recognition of whole words.
We can vary the game by replacing the matching pairs, with pairs of words which rhyme so the child learns to recognise sounds in a word.
One further variation, which might be particularly useful for dyslexic children, is to match initial letters with a picture – so if they turn over a picture of a dog, they have to match it with the letter ‘D’ or ‘d’. Again, the child can help make up the cards either with their own drawings or cutting pictures from magazines.
There’s some worked examples on this website.
Baking is great for your dyslexic child
Now it might not seem an obvious reading game, but in a way that’s what makes it so perfect for dyslexic children who find reading and writing a challenge. Learning is more impactful if it’s fun too.
There are so many ways baking can help with reading and writing. Choosing the recipe, looking at ingredients and making a shopping list are all collaborative activities that can involved parents and siblings. Going to the shops with a list helps word recognition even when reading and word sounds remain a challenge.
At home, organising all the ingredients in order they are used, as well as the number skills for measuring quantities make for a full brain workout, that can be done to match the child’s ability.
All learning should be fulfilling too, and that’s where baking comes into its own, because what’s better than a freshly baked biscuit or cup cake to reward all that cleverness?
There is no substitute for a structured learning schedule in the school environment, but it’s important that we keep it going at home too. Hopefully these games inspire you to try others too.