Strategies for Dyslexia:

What Parents Need to Know

A child who has dyslexia has difficulty with the phonology, or the sounds, of language.  This difficulty is with understanding that spoken words can be broken into individual sounds and how those sounds can be manipulated.  A child with dyslexia needs systematic, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics to remediate this difficulty.  

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the awareness of sounds that make up words.  This is a strictly auditory skill and is also the skill that is the best predictor of reading ability.  If the child is in first grade or higher, it is helpful to teach phonemic awareness skills with letter symbols.  While this is no longer strictly phonemic and becomes phonological awareness, the National Reading Panel research states that this method allows for greater gains1.  

Here are some strategies for practicing beginning phonemic awareness:

  • read rhyming books and sing rhyming songs
  • sing songs that play with sounds like “the name game” or “apples and bananas”  While these are older, cherished songs, there are newer songs that have similar word play in them.  
  • teach hand clapping chants
  • read poems and play with alliteration
  • practice some tongue twisters
  • show them how to blend sounds together into a word and how to segment words into sounds


Phonics is the relationship of letters to sounds and how to apply this knowledge to reading.  Phonics knowledge provides the foundation for subsequent reading skills2.  Multisensory phonics instruction is the best way to teach children who have dyslexia to learn to read.  This instruction involves a step by step progression and adds new information when a child has solidified previous skills.  Children practice each skill using tactile, auditory, visual, and kinesthetic input.  The older skills are continuously reviewed and practiced, so that a child can easily know when to use what specific skill or strategy.  Multisensory phonics instruction can be done individually or in a small group setting.  

Phonics and decoding strategies for helping children who have dyslexia:

  • teach the names of the letters uppercase and lowercase
  • teach the sounds of the letters; take away the /uh/ sound after consonants (to aid in blending sounds)
  • practice blending sounds into words with the symbols and practice segmenting words into sounds and symbols to practice spelling with each of the decoding rules
  • teaching letter-sound patterns
  • syllable types and how to decode each
  • syllable division and how to decode multisyllabic words
  • morphographs
  • words derived from other languages

It should be noted that the type of instruction that is best for a child with dyslexia is also good instruction for any child.  Depending on the difficulty a child with dyslexia faces, they may need more repetition, explicit instruction, or practice to gain these skills.  However, since this type of instruction works for all children, these phonics skills and decoding strategies should be in all reading instruction.  

As your child progresses through phonemic awareness and phonics instruction, let LightSail be a part of their journey.  LightSail can find books at just the right reading level for your child by using their Lexile level.  No longer do you have to struggle to find books for them to read!  In the Personalized Reader, a child can have support through the reading window, word spacing, or by having multisyllabic words divided into syllables.  Your child can practice their spelling and writing skills right in LightSail.  LightSail provides support for all readers.  

Posted on 9.Sep.21 in Struggling Readers

Insights for your ELA Classroom

We've gathered information on the topics educators ask us about most often. Each post is written to be insightful, practical and most of all, based on what we know works from our experiences with tens of thousands of classrooms across the country.

Trending Topics:

  • Going Digital & Your Literacy Strategy
  • Engaged Students in Data Driven Classrooms
  • How Formative Assessments Can Guide Instruction

Sign Up For Literacy In Action

We protect your privacy and will never share your email address with anyone.