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How to Minimize or Possibly Prevent the Effects of Dyslexia in Your Child

Submitted by on July 18, 2013 – 8:09 am4 Comments

How to Minimize Effects of Dyslexia in Your Child

Tips on How to Minimize the Effects of Dyslexia in Your Child

In his newest book, The Marvelous Learning Animal, Arthur W. Staats shares his findings on what can parents do to minimize their chances of having a dyslexic child.

  • Generate first language development. Continue to develop the language development of the child by constantly naming the activities and experiences that are being experienced.
  • Create a relationship of doing things together. In play and other activities, such as coloring in books, using toys, and having the child help in such things as simple chores.
  • When the child has developed good language for a two or three year old, introduce what Staats calls the “reading game” as directed below.

Reading Game: A Preventative Measure to Dyslexia

Here’s how to play Staats’ reading game with your toddler or preschooler to help promote learning experiences that may help prevent dyslexia.

1) Make 10 five by eight cards with pictures of a common object on each, like a spoon, a car, a dog, and chair-perhaps cut from magazines.

2) Then one evening after dinner, but before dessert, sit down with the child and one by one show each of the pictures asking “Can you tell me what this is? Compliment the child in each by saying “Very good,” or some such.

3) After going through the cards go have dessert, or tell the child than now you can do something he or she wants to do, like play with a toy, in other words present a reward.

4) Do this again another night.

5) On the third night mix a card with a capital letter A printed on it into the ten cards. When this card comes up say “This is the letter A.

Can you say A?” After the child says “A” compliment her or him “Saying that’s really good, you read the letter.” The child can be shown the
letter in a magazine, book, or newspaper. Dessert. Do this until the child says the letter without prompting, but always be ready to give the answer if there is any hesitancy.

6) The next time this is done present the pictures including the letter B (not A) and immediately say “This is the letter B, can you say B.” Do the same until the child knows B well. Then the next night go back to A alone, and tell the child “This is the letter A again, can you say A? On succeeding nights give training on the two letters separately until the child knows them both well. Then have them both in the pack of cards. Prompt the child on each letter so there are no errors, until the child knows them well. Then other letters can be introduced, on at a time, with the same caution. Preventing errors is essential. Never try to speed the learning.

Additional Reading Game Tips

  • Keep the training to short periods.
  • Always use compliments.
  • Have a reward after each session.

Staats says, “Knowing the alphabet when a child enters school is the best predictor of whether or not the child will learn to read.”

Arthur W. Staats (Honolulu, HI) is professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is internationally known as an innovator and is the inventor of time-out for use with children and the token-reward system (token economy). In 2006, Child magazine recognized him as one of “20 People Who Changed Childhood.” He is the author of six books, more than fifty chapters, and over eighty journal articles, among other publications.



  • Teri says:

    This sounds like hokum to me. I have four children. Three taught themselves to read before they were school age, the youngest one was reading chapter books at 4 1/2. The third child is severely dyslexic. She was exposed to exactly what the other three were exposed to. Even more, #3 and #4 are 11 mos apart in age. They all watched the same leapfrog dvds. They all played rhyming games in the car. They all were read to endlessly. They all named pictures. There is nothing that could have “prevented” her dyslexia that we didn’t do. Her brain is different. This is about as logical as saying we could “prevent” two of our children from being left handed.

    • Amy says:

      I totally agree with you Teri! Environmental factors do not make a child dyslexic nor do I believe that they can “minimize” dyslexia. Like a broken arm, you either have it or you don’t. This brief article makes me mad as it totally misrepresents dyslexia as something that could be prevented or lessened and could make parents feel guilty that there were things they could have done to prevent their child’s dyslexia. That is wrong and irresponsible. Based on the credentials listed for the man making these claims, he has no training/education in dyslexia. Dyslexia is not about knowing the letters, but about being able to understand the phonetics behind those letters individually and in combinations. Yes, I have a dyslexic child. And yes, I did the activities outlined by Mr. Staat above, but it did not and never would have have prevented or lessened his dyslexia. The activities he suggests are wonderful activities for any child and parent, but aren’t going to prevent or minimize dyslexia. Mr. Staat needs to stick to psychological topics for which he is trained and keep his “opinions” about dyslexia to himself.

  • Laura says:

    Have to agree. I have twins. One is dyslexic and happens to be left handed which have read is common. Her dad is dyslexic and my brother is dyslexic. It’s in the genes!

  • Lm says:

    Is dyslexia a disease to be “prevented”??? I have never heard of such nonsense!!!

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