Parent Resources


Parents may or may not live in a school district where teachers know how to recognize dyslexia. There are many myths about dyslexia. It is not reading backwards, having letters and words “swim” on a page, or confusing b’s and d’s past first grade. The neurological conditions that underlie dyslexia are apparent even before kindergarten. Parents should watch for different symptoms at each developmental milestone (check out the What is Dyslexia page for Characteristics of Dyslexia info sheets).

For most parents, the problems become apparent in kindergarten when children should be learning letters and sounds. If a child is having difficulty, the question naturally arises: Should I have my child tested for dyslexia? Remember, waiting to fail is not a good option. The earlier a child’s weaknesses are identified, the earlier appropriate instructional strategies can begin.

How to Support Your Child at Home

If you think your child isn't learning to read as fast as they should be, there are many ways you can help them, from playing word games to having them read out loud to you, to explicitly teaching them to read yourself. The following lists are not exhaustive, but are meant as a starting point to help you find quality resources!

Educate Yourself

The following resources, among many others available, are full of information about problems with reading and how to help solve them.

  • Parent/Guardian Resources from the Children's Dyslexia Centers. This document includes general suggestions, reading instruction games and activities, and online resources for parents of kids who struggle with reading.

  • The Reading League's Knowledge Base. The Frequently Requested Resources page includes links to instructional videos, research articles, and resources for learning more about reading and teaching reading.

  • International Dyslexia Association Fact Sheets. Includes guidance on spelling, comprehension, homeschooling, structured literacy, and brain science, among other useful topics.

  • IDA Dyslexia Handbook. Offers valuable information about dyslexia and its characteristics from elementary schools through college, assessments, effective teaching approaches, self-advocacy ideas, and a vast array of resources.

Connect with Your Child's Teacher

Susan Barton, of Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, produced a series of Facebook live chats for parents and tutors.

Check out the following two videos, How to prepare for school - step 1 and How to prepare for school - step 2, for advice on how to approach your child's teachers about support your child will need at school.

How to Handle Sight Word Lists from School

When your child brings home a list of sight words or spelling words to memorize, you can support your child by helping them "map" the sounds of the words to the letters in the words. Once a word is mapped in their brain, it becomes an automatic word for the child.

The following videos give demonstrations of how to do this. Most words, even the ones we think of as "irregular," also have parts that are regular. You can help your child identify the regular parts of the word, and then focus their attention on the irregular part(s) separately to help them remember the word better.

See the Sight Words page for more information about how the brain learns to read words automatically.

Learning at the Primary Pond - How should I teach high frequency words?

Use Decodable Readers

Decodable books are not the same as leveled books or predictable texts, which promote the strategy of guessing at words from context or pictures. Decodable books are designed for beginning and struggling readers to practice reading text that contains the phonics concepts they have been taught.

A book is not decodable for a child unless they have been taught to read the types of words the book includes. Ask your school or local public library to order some decodable books if they haven't yet.

Decodables typically come in series that start with beginning phonics concepts and move on to more difficult ones. Find a set of decodable readers (examples linked below). Ask your child to read them out loud to you, starting with the easiest. When they stumble on a word, help them sound it out and point out the spelling of the part they got stuck on. If they struggle with the same type of spelling or sound multiple times, they have not learned that concept yet.

Ask your school for a copy of their phonics scope and sequence to see when they will cover that concept, or teach that letter/sound combination to them yourself, having them write example words for practice.

Teach the Phonics Concepts Yourself

There are many good books and programs you can use with your child. Here are some examples:

Use Game-based Apps

These are some good apps that can help test literacy milestones and boost your child's reading skills.


Reading Buddies. Produced by The Reading League

Find a Tutor

Not all tutors are equally proficient at providing the instruction a struggling reader needs. Parents need to use their time and money wisely by selecting a tutor with meaningful credentials. More and more individuals are becoming certified by organizations that have rigorous standards. In addition to in-person tutoring, online options are often available.

Get Support

The Bright Solutions for Dyslexia website by Susan Barton offers good guidance for parents on strategies for helping your dyslexic child.

Steps for Parents Who Suspect Dyslexia

1. Get a dyslexia screening before you spend the money for a complete psycho-educational evaluation. Many assessors will provide screening exams at a low cost and then advise whether or not full testing is warranted.

  • Screening exams should include any family history of difficulty learning to read. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, any extended family member who struggled to learn to read should be mentioned.

  • Screening exams should include a timed phonemic awareness and manipulation test and timed Rapid Symbolic Naming test. Some good dyslexia screening assessments are the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, Second Edition (CTOPP2); David Kilpatrick’s Phonemic Awareness Screening Test (PAST); and Early Bird Screening Test.

  • If these tests indicate problems with any of the phonological processes that must be in place for a child to learn to read, then seek a fuller evaluation.

Note: Qualified members of the International Dyslexia Association Wisconsin Branch, The Reading League, Decoding Dyslexia, and others may offer free dyslexia screening days. Look for these and take advantage of them if you’re wondering about getting a child assessed for dyslexia.

2. Choose an assessor wisely. Specially trained Reading Specialists, Special Education Teachers, Speech-Language Therapists, and Educational Psychologists can all give the tests that will lead to a diagnosis of dyslexia. A medical doctor or a neuropsychologist is not necessary unless you suspect more issues than dyslexia. If oral language, writing, math, working memory, attention deficit, hyperactivity, oppositional behavior, speech impediments, mental health concerns, or other issues are also a problem, then seek out the appropriate specialist or neuropsychologist for a thorough evaluation.

3. Be aware that a complete psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation is expensive, ranging from around $900 to thousands of dollars, and the testing is often not covered by insurance. Parents may be able to pay for the evaluation with Flex Spending or Health Savings Account dollars or apply for insurance reimbursement, but policies vary and coverage for testing also varies. Know what is covered and what is not by talking to your health insurance specialist.

4. A complete evaluation to identify strengths and weaknesses can take up to four to six hours and includes cognitive, achievement, and oral language batteries of tests. The Woodcock Johnson IV publishes a service bulletin that describes what tests should be included in a complete dyslexia evaluation.

5. Several computer programs analyze assessment data and fit it to the criteria for a dyslexia diagnosis. WJIV has a dyslexia report template; WIIIP gives both a comprehensive report of strengths and weaknesses and a dyslexia report. XBASS also gives a dyslexia report. Each program compares composite scores for strengths and weaknesses to determine if a child’s data fits the profile for dyslexia.

6. Ask what tests and analysis protocols the assessor uses to be sure you are getting a qualified assessment that will identify dyslexia if that is the problem.

7. A common profile for dyslexia includes high listening comprehension, evidence of being able to learn without reading, evidence of a phonological processing deficit (including short and long-term memory), and differences between oral vocabulary and reading vocabulary, spelling weaknesses, passage reading fluency, and passage comprehension weaknesses. A good evaluation identifies a child’s strengths as well as a child’s weaknesses and should also indicate how the weaknesses can be helped.

8. If the learning problem is not dyslexia, a thorough psycho-educational evaluation should be able to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses and guide parents and schools in granting appropriate accommodations or modifications to instruction.

9. An IEP (Individual Educational Plan) is not guaranteed, even with a dyslexia diagnosis. Accommodations for extra time, having tests read aloud, and specific instructional strategies can also be honored by the school districts through a 504 Plan.

10. Parents should always encourage their child to do his or her best and should guide his educational choices so he can be successful. Often students with dyslexia also have a high mechanical aptitude, art or music talent, math skills, performing skills, or other talents at which they can succeed. Every person is different, and dyslexia is nothing more than a brain difference which dictates how a child should be taught, not his worth as a contributing member of society. Help your child find their hobbies, interests, and natural aptitudes.

Podcasts & Videos


Big Horn Elementary School. (2021). BHE Reading Program - Big Horn ES. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc. (2020, May 8). Our Centers. Children’s Dyslexia Centers. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Embracing Dyslexia. (2013, September 2). Embracing Dyslexia [Video]. YouTube.

IDA Editorial Contributors. (2021, March 23). Fact Sheets. International Dyslexia Association.

Kastner, P. (2021). The Kastner Collection: Decodable Text Resources. Wakelet. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Our Dyslexic Children, Inc [Parents For Reading Justice: Dyslexia & Beyond]. (2020, May 21). Our Dyslexic Children - 2020 - Full Film [Video]. YouTube.

Proctor, C. M., Mather, N., & Stephens, T. L. (2015). Use of the Woodcock-Johnson IV for the Assessment of Dyslexia (Woodcock Johnson IV Assessment Service Bulletin No. 6). Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside.

The Reading League. (2021, October 25). Knowledge Base - Frequently Requested Resources. The Reading League. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Reading Rockets.

Right to Read Project.

Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia. (2021, November 8). Infographics & infosheets. Middle Tennessee State University. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from