How can I help my child?

The early years

up to Year 1

picture of children reading with parents

What can I do to help my child with their reading?

We all want our children to learn to read successfully and the underlying skills that are essential for reading can be developed at home, often through play whilst having fun. When your child is beginning to show signs that they are finding learning to read difficult as they begin school, or have dyslexic tendencies, it is still these underlying skills that need developing and reinforcement. Specialist multisensory literacy programmes include these skills, alongside formal phonics.

The areas that are important to develop are:

  • Book Knowledge and Vocabulary.
  • Awareness of sounds in words.
  • Listening Activities.
  • Looking Activities.
picture of a book


Daily reading to your child is a great way to develop their vocabulary and language, attention, listening and comprehension. It also increases their 'book knowledge'. It is not automatic for a child to know how to hold a book, which way it opens, where the story starts, where the top of the page is and in which direction the words flow.

Awareness of Sounds in Words

The technical word for this is 'phonological awareness', which is the ability to recognise and work with sounds in spoken words. This is an area of weakness in dyslexia and is essential for developing reading and spelling.


I spy with my little eye something ...

  • beginning with ... (the same sound).
  • beginning with the same sound as ball.
  • beginning with the letter B.
  • that rhymes with bat.
  • ending with (a sound).

Reading and reciting nursery rhymes or poetry that rhymes.

  • Say pairs of words that rhyme e.g. cat and bat - do they rhyme?
  • Say pairs of words that do not rhyme e.g. cat and dog - do they rhyme?
  • Start off a word rhyme and each say a rhyming word e.g. day - play - may - tray. The first to break the rhyme must start a new round.

Singing songs and clapping out rhythms and syllables.

  • Tap or clap a simple rhythm for the child to repeat, gradually make the rhythm more difficult.
  • Clap words of one syllable, then move onto two syllable words. Say them as you clap them e.g. cat, black-board, hol-i-day. Later the child is given a word to clap. Can you say how many beats are in the word?

picture of different aspects of phonological awareness

Listening Activities

These can develop auditory sequencing, the ability to understand and recall a sequence of sounds and words.

Listen to everyday sounds with eyes closed and discuss what you can hear.

Play sound lotto

Listen to sound stories.

Ask a child to close their eyes and guess who is speaking.

Play 'Simon says'.

  • Start with a simple instruction, e.g. 'Simon says clap your hands.'
  • Gradually make the instructions more difficult, e.g. 'Simon says, touch your ear and your nose.'

Play 'I went to market'.

  • Start with a particular group, e.g. fruit or vegetables.
  • Later shop for random things, e.g. a piano, a thimble.
  • This game can also be played with each item beginning with a letter.
  • Different openings can be used:

I packed my case with ...

In my Christmas stocking I found...

On my birthday I had...

Looking Activities

These develop visual sequencing, which is the ability to see objects in a particular sequence.

Playing games:

  • Snap
  • Pairs
  • Pelmanism or memory games
  • Dominoes
  • Happy families

Sorting objects into colours, shapes, sizes.

Provide a tray of objects for the child to look at. After a few seconds cover the tray and ask the child to name all the objects they saw.

Show a series of pictures, then ask them to arrange them to make a story. Ask them to tell you the story.

Dyslexia Direct Services Logo

For more help or advice contact me: