8 study tips to help middle-schoolers with dyslexia

By Kate Kelly

Expert reviewed by Elizabeth Babbin, EdD

Studying in middle school is more complicated for all kids, with different teachers scheduling tests at different times. Plus, the material is harder. These tips can help you make the process less challenging for your child with dyslexia.

1. Figure out how much time your child needs to study.

Kids with dyslexia often take more time to study than their peers. Ongoing issues with may slow your child down. If your child has trouble with working memory or reading comprehension, your child may need more practice and repetition to remember concepts and information.

Talk to your child about how much time they think they need to prepare for the test. Then work together to create a realistic study schedule. If your child needs breaks during studying sessions, factor them in. Pushing beyond their limits may only make your child frustrated, less productive, and more anxious about the test.

2. Bring in visual elements.

Memorizing facts solely by reading them can be hard for kids with dyslexia. Adding a visual element to the study process can help.

Let’s say your child has a unit test on the solar system or the cycle of the oceans. Your child could make a PowerPoint presentation of the key facts to study from or a slideshow with narration. For a history test, your child could create a visual timeline of the main events. Working with visuals can help your child connect with the material on a deeper level.

3. Add images to flashcards.

Making flashcards that include images can help your child remember information. And there are many ways kids can do it. For instance, your child can make digital flashcards using an app. Your child can also cut and paste images they find online on index cards or draw them themself.

Creating the cards is just another way for kids to work with the material. The simple act of writing the notes can reinforce the concepts or information. So can the process of looking for images that represent the concepts.

4. Prepare for short-answer tests in advance.

Dyslexia can often impact writing. If that’s the case with your child, short-answer test questions might be hard — and stressful. Have your child ask the teacher what material will be covered on the test. Then, help your child come up with practice questions, and have your child practice writing short answers.

Doing that will help reinforce the information. It can also make kids more comfortable with the format and more confident in their ability to handle it on test day.

5. Have your child read or play notes aloud.

Kids with dyslexia often use multiple senses when they learn to read. That approach can also help when they study. Hearing or speaking information can make it easier to take it in, process it, and remember it.

When your child is studying, have them read aloud relevant sections from the textbook or from the class notes. Your child might also want to record information and then play it back. Your child could also ask a parent or a study group member to make the recording of notes if there’s a lot of text.

6. Try software to help organize study notes.

are a great tool to help structure kids’ writing, but they can also help kids with dyslexia put notes into a format that’s easier to read. For instance, your child could use graphic organizing software to create visual notes.

Some programs will let them open and close the notes so they can quiz themself. And some offer text-to-speech features that allow kids to hear their notes as well as read them. Explore a list of software programs for kids with reading issues.

7. Encourage your child to join a study group.

Joining or forming a study group, or just studying with a friend, lets your child talk through their notes, figure out if they missed something, and share their ideas. This might be more helpful than studying notes on their own. Plus, the social aspect can make the process more fun and less frustrating. Since kids with dyslexia often need more repetition, however, your child will probably have to review on their own, too.

8. Remind your child to ask about the directions.

Your child may be tempted to skip reading the test directions as a way to avoid another reading task. Your child may think they already know what to do, only to find out that the test required something else. Have your child talk to the teacher in advance about what format the test will be in and what the instructions will be.

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