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How to Help Your Dyslexic Child with Writing

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

by The Joy of Learning

When a dyslexia practitioner hears a parent say, “My child has trouble writing.” One of the first questions asked is “What do you mean by writing? Writing stories and reports? Handwriting? Spelling?

Dyslexic students can have trouble with all of these. Not to fear… there are ways to help. This post will focus first on suggestions to grow narrative and expository writing skills. Watch for follow up posts that will tackle handwriting and spelling. Stay tuned.

Did you know students with dyslexia are typically creative and use imagery as a method for memory? They can use these skills to become excellent writers!

Fun Fact: The author of Captain Underpants and Dog Man, Dave Pilkey, is dyslexic. He struggled in school due to dyslexia. Now he considers it “his superpower”. Other famous authors with dyslexia include John Irving, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie.

Watch this video to see how Dave Pilkey’s learning differences helped him create Captain Underpants and Dog Man.

Your child may or may not become a famous author. Regardless, they can learn to communicate well in writing. Here are some tips and tricks to help your child with writing stories.

Use pictures and visualization. Pictures can help dyslexic students describe what they are trying to write. They can use rich, descriptive vocabulary to describe characters, story critical objects and character actions.

Provide word banks. Brainstorm words to describe the story critical characters, objects and actions. Students gain confidence in their writing when they can use “delicious” words. “Delicious” words are more specific. They create a rich image, but may not be easy to spell. For example,…which sentence creates a vivid image?

The sun was hot.

The sun was sweltering.

If you struggle with writing, wouldn’t it be great not to labor over spelling a few “delicious” words? Remove the burden of spelling by giving these words to the budding author.

Use graphic organizers. The writing process should be broken down into pieces. Students can write using a road map. Providing a graphic organizer will help the learner keep the story focused and on track. These are two of my favorite organizers. The first is for narrative writing (fiction). The second is for expository (nonfiction.

Orally rehearse what they want to say. Students can touch and tell each idea before writing it. Here is a simplistic example for a young student writing about Halloween. The student can touch the “setting box” in the narrative graphic organizer. They might say, “It was a cold, damp night in October. Then they can touch the character box and say, “ My sister and I were wearing our costumes. My sister was a clown and I was a pirate.” Talking out the story while touching each box, helps keep writers on track. It’s an easy road map for them to refer back to.

Dyslexia is a language-based disorder and impacts reading and writing. It is quite common to notice a big difference between what a student thinks and can orally tell versus what they can put on paper. Remember to break the task into smaller pieces. Provide word banks, graphic organizers and orally rehearse prior to writing. Don’t forget to offer positive feedback or praise. Help the learner understand that their thoughts are worth sharing.

Side Note: These tech tools are also available and you might find them helpful. For more information, click the link.

Need help with your child's reading?

The Joy of Learning provides engaging, 1-on-1, evidence based instruction in reading, writing, and math, for students with diverse learning styles, taught by highly qualified learning specialists. We teach in person in the Boulder, Denver, and SF Bay area, and virtually at any location. Interested to Learn More? Book a Free Consultation Here.

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