Parent as teacher and a dyslexic child. WHAT TO DO?

Davis Facilitator Anita Chmara
Anita Chmara / Moc Dysleksji

This is not an easy situation for many of us. Children in the coronavirus era still have dyslexia, but now the parent is responsible for how the child handles school duties. So: dyslexia and… what’s next?

You may notice that your child gets very tight when reading, writing, or sometimes counting. It’s about tense muscles, a crouched body, nervous hand movements, sometimes rubbing the eyes. A difficult expression, a mistake and…. the first symptoms of stress appear. A second slip-up and the stress intensifies. Next, the child can be pounding on the book with fists. The nerves are so intense in this state that it’s really hard to expect a child to read correctly.

That’s why the first thing we do in a Davis Dyslexia program is learning to relax. We start with specific techniques to teach the child how to calm down. We don’t allow reading until the practice of relaxation rebuffs the panic attacks. A child who is stressed doesn’t stand a chance of working properly – just like us! After all, we adults are also not exactly ourselves in nervous situations. For example, it is difficult for us to find lost things that we need immediately, or aim properly at the keyhole when we are in a big hurry.

A lot depends on the parent. If parents can calm themselves down, the child will learn how to react. Meanwhile, completing schoolwork at home is not conducive to this process. All the more so because doing homework is not our only activity. We have the whole house on our mind and often our own work. Nevertheless, breathe with the child! Find relaxation techniques that suit you. One of them is, for example, finding a mental safe place. A child (and a parent too) imagines the safest place where they feel good and peaceful. For some, it is a bed, for others a beach, for others, a meadow. There are children who say they feel best on the back of a horse. Choosing a place is an arbitrary matter, it is important only that the place takes us to the right emotional state that will cause the letters in the book to return to their place.

Another thing is reading at the right pace. Many kids want to finish work as soon as possible, so they accelerate. The child usually only looks at the first few letters of the word and then guesses. When the guessings appear, I think it is best to stop the child from reading further. Instead, just cover the text and suggest breathing exercises or travel to an imaginary safe place. Take a short break, but don’t leave the book. Only when the child calms down can he return to look at the sentence again.

If your child has a problem with motivation and is very often crawling under a desk or running around the room instead of really working, I have found it helpful to use a chess clock. That is, we count the time that is spent on real learning (the child pushes the clock on his side), as well as time for additional activities (you press the clock on your side as soon as the digressions and free skirmishes start). You can use a real chess clock if you have one, or you can find one on the Internet in the form of a free app. The goal is to show that breaks keep us away from our real free time, when we do not need to do anything and we can really relax

Create a success box. Toss in cards with a description of everything that has been done well. Recently, my little client came up with the idea that he has three lives while reading one page. If he manages to fit in these three lives (only two mistakes while reading), the success card goes to the box anyway. Until then, I had applied the principle that the whole page should be read properly. However, it doesn’t matter what rules we choose, the most important thing is that the rules are agreed jointly and provide the motivation for careful work.

These are only a few important points that can help. If you are interested in the Ron Davis method, I invite you to the book The Gift of Dyslexia for more specific instruction and tools that can be implemented at home.

Davis Facilitators are currently able to offer full standard programs for dyslexia, reading, math, and attention mastery online, with the participation of a parent or other family member as a support person. For a list of all facilitators offering online programs, go to

This article has been translated from Polish by Abigail Marshall, with the help of Google translate. For the original Polish text, see: