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What’s the best plan for a preschooler with dyslexia entering kindergarten? What should I ask the school to do right from the start?

Expert answer

Beginning kindergarten is an important to ensure that an at-risk child receives the right help. The critical areas are: assessment, instruction and monitoring. The child’s language and phonological and readiness skills should be assessed. Next, there are now available several evidence-based, developmentally appropriate reading readiness programs available; they generally stress teaching child about the sounds of spoken language, how letters represent these sounds and introduce a child to early reading skills.

Vocabulary and listening to stories as well as early writing are introduced. The elements should be provided in a systematic and explicit fashion; dyslexic children do not learn by osmosis. Simply surrounding a child with books is insufficient, he or she must be taught explicitly.

Finally, they should be continuously monitored; there are instruments now available that all up-to-the-minute frequent monitoring of reading progress. And you, as a parent, should continuously ask to ensure that the reading instruction is based on evidence of efficacy and that your child’s progress is being carefully monitored and that if she or he is not making progress, modifications are quickly made. Catching a reading problem early and doing the right things can ensure a bright future for your child. Good luck!

— Dr. Sally Shaywitz

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