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Some advice to help your child with reading/writing disabilities during the confinement period.

Caroline MONNARD, Sandrine LARGER and Josée VESTA

Speech therapists at the Reference Center for Language and Learning Disorders - Center of Excellence for Neurodevelopmental Disorders – Robert Debré Hospital, Paris

Here, you will find some advice to help your child during the confinement period. We will not provide instructions to conduct rehabilitation sessions the way a speech therapist would. Instead, we provide you with some ideas to help your child’s reading and writing skills while taking into account your child’s reading/writing disabilities.

General Advice:

Keep in mind that children with reading/writing disabilities:

  • Require more attentional resources than children without reading/writing disabilities when they do their schoolwork. Therefore, children with reading/writing disabilities are easily tired and sometimes discouraged when faced with difficult tasks.

  • Can hardly multitask, that is reading, understanding, acting and/or writing simultaneously.

  • Have trouble with organization and planning.

Main Principles:

It's important to focus on quality rather than quantity. Encouragement, kindness, and appreciation will be essential to support your child's efforts.

  • Establish a timetable with work sessions adapted to your child's pace.

  • Make learning objectives explicit, and at the end of the session, make a short summary sheet on the vocabulary learned, the spelling of words, etc…

  • Highlight the elements to memorize by simplifying the concept as much as possible; punctually encourage the recall of the previous notions:

- "What is an adjective ?"

- "What means ... ?"

- "Can you tell me something you've learned yesterday ?"

Support Reading:

Reading for training is necessary, but it must be made fun and pleasant; in addition to academic material, one can stimulate reading development in diverse ways: cooking by following a recipe, reading a manual, reading the rules of game, etc... In doing so, reading will be seen as a function, and not only as an academic task.

During schoolwork at home, ask your child for reading when necessary, but don’t insist that your child reads when reading is not a learning target: for example, history lesson. Instead, read to your child.

Reading the instructions:

  • Reading the instructions orally to your child and ensure understanding.

  • Highlight important words.

  • Use colors to highlight the different steps: “What should we do first?, What should we do second …?".

  • Rephrase when the message is not understood.

Reading long texts:

  • Alternate reading sentence (or paragraphs for more advanced children) with your child.

  • Make sure that the words are correctly understood and give the meaning of words immediately after reading them (do not ask the child to look at the dictionary, etc.). Additionally, note the "new words" in a notebook and reuse them in everyday situations.

  • Make sure that your child understands the text by using open questions or multiple choice. The use of drawings or diagrams for a better understanding of the text.

Support Writing:

Reduce Writting :

  • Don't make your child copy a text, instructions, or list of words.

  • Use all possible learning material: blackboard, mobile letters, keyboard…

  • Do missing word exercises (eg: "the cowboy wears a large ..." /hat/) or multiple choices (eg: "children ... ... play / plays / are play").

For Orthographic Learning:

  • Create lists of words by common points: either by sounds (words beginning with the sound “p” or “b”, or ending by the sound “ing”, “ball” or by orthographic analogies (words which have a silent “w” at the beginning (for example: writing, whole) or "b" at the end (bomb, numb, etc…).

  • Highlight the difficulties using different colors to facilitate memorization: dolphin, elephant, etc…

  • Do exercises where your child must put back letters in order: [eakns]: “snake” or propose multiple choice: “sanke”, “snaek”, “snake”.

· Ask the child to spell the short words forward or backwards.

· During spelling tests, target specific words or orthographic rules.

Translated by Dr Hugo Peyre

48 Boulevard Serurier, 75019  Paris France

©2020 by Dr. Benjamin Landman. Child Psychiatry, Robert Debre Hospital - Paris