How to Help Kids With Dyslexia

Fortunately, there are evidence-based supports to help children with dyslexia improve their reading skills. A program appropriate to a child with dyslexia might include these features, says Dr. Cruger:

  • Multi-sensory instruction in decoding skills
  • Repetition and review of skills
  • Intensity of intervention—that is, more than being pulled out of class once a week for extra help
  • Small group or individual instruction
  • Teaching phonological skills
  • Drilling sight words
  • Teaching comprehension strategies, to help kids derive meaning from what they’re reading

Dr. Cruger adds that an important part of supporting kids with dyslexia is finding ways to decrease their discomfort about reading, and to make learning to read enjoyable, not humiliating. That means minimizing the amount of time you spend correcting the child, and maximizing encouragement of even small gains.

Reading programs that have been shown to be effective for kids with dyslexia include:

What doesn’t help? Simple tutoring in a conventional learning center that is not focused on remediation, or building missing skills, can backfire if it’s an unpleasant experience. Practicing reading helps typical readers get better, but can be a source of distress for dyslexic readers. “If the child hates the experience of reading help, it’s not helpful,” Dr. Cruger notes. “And it’s not treating the source of the problem, the phonological weakness.”