Children who learn to visualise words don’t develop Dyslexia. So how do we encourage young children to visualise words, even before school and any formal teaching. The Word Form Area (WFA) is an area in their brain that has mental images of words used for word recognition. The answer is simple and you don’t need to be taught how to do this you can simply learn in the right environment.
For free live group coaching sessions register here Ready to try a Different Strategy for Dyslexia. The one scheduled for July 4th is about helping children avoid Dyslexia, even if it runs in the family. You will also be able to download a full version of this note.
Step 1: Make friends with your own mental images. This is a useful skill for any learning. Without pressure, a child can explore their own mental images for objects and people. For example, if they are talking about elephants, ask them what colour theirs are and don’t be surprised when you are told rainbow coloured elephants doing ninja dancing. There are no right answers to mental imagery, they are your pictures, and you are not being asked to judge them. Here are some examples of how to do this:
- Help them explore their own mental images, e.g. looking at pictures and talking about the details.
- Talk about life events they can recall or make up
- When reading a story, encourage the child to make up pictures in their head so they can remember their favourite bits. These pictures can be still or videos and may not match yours; they may be better! Have you ever read a book and then seen the film, and the story doesn’t match your imagination?
- After a parent reads a book, the child may like to look through favourite books and make up their own stories, encouraging a vivid imagination.
- You/they can make up imaginary characters and animals; the crazier, the better.
- Notice how your child may like waking up and just turning the pages of a favourite book, with no pressure to read, but gaining an awareness of words all on their own.
- You may notice them look up when they are talking about their pictures – this in excellent and the best place to visualise.
- Follow their interests in a self-directed way.
p.s. they have pictures in their head of you at 6 weeks old, that is how they recognise you and smile.
Step 2: How to build up your Word Form Area (WFA) without instruction? Help them get used and familiar with being able to picture letters and words before beginning any formal instruction, which may not even be needed. By simply seeing words in a non-threatening way, they will invisibly start building words in the WFA. It is essential to stay relaxed. If the child gets stressed or feels put on the spot to “get it right”, their anxiety mounts, memory is poor, and the letters may even start dancing around on the paper.
- Their name usually is the first word they recognise; why? Because they have seen it the most times and naturally popped it in their WFA.
- Stick post-its of object words around the house, on the object, just above their eye level. Perhaps different colours for fun. Preferably one-syllable words to start with, e.g. door on door, cup on cup, wall on wall. Don’t make a fuss about them, just leave them there. Perhaps add a few more on to favourite places like the fridge door too, e.g. eggs, cheese and pop. You can also use a favourute teddy, as in the picture.
- By simply seeing words in a non-threatening way, they will invisibly start building words in the WFA. It is essential to stay relaxed. If the child gets stressed or feels put on the spot to “get it right”, their anxiety mounts, memory is poor, and the letters may even start dancing around on the paper. Please don’t ask the child what the word is; wait until they recognise it or ask you. Waiting for the child to ask has the added bonus they are more likely to remember it.
- Words are all around them; in books, on street signs, shop signs (like Tesco), shopping lists, etc. and they will be secretly stashing these away in their WFA for the day, they proudly announce, “I can read”.
These have all been noun words which is the place to start and neuroscience has explained why this is so. For more details as to how to start recognising non-nouns register here and select July 4th, for a live class for young children and a free download. I has been teaching dyslexic children for 22 years. I can assure you it is easier for very young children to learn these basic skills of word recognition before going to school, where they will need to master phonics, when a little older, for more difficult words.
For free live group coaching sessions register here Ready to try a Different Strategy for Dyslexia. The one scheduled for July 4th is about helping children avoid Dyslexia, even if it runs in the family.
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My latest books are:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of Mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery.
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties
Recover Your energy– this book will energise you
You too can do health
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