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​By Hazel Pillai and Vivia Marchock

The Dyslexia Association, Trinidad

Children with Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) require a deep understanding of their special needs within the home.  Parents who “feel” that all is not quite right should seek expert help.  However, there are certain early pointers to the child who may be “at risk”:


  1. Difficulty in dressing: shoes on the wrong feet.

  2. Appears to be clumsy or accident-prone.

  3. Difficulty hopping, skipping, clapping a simple rhythm, catching a ball or kicking a ball.

  4. Difficulty following instructions.

  5. Slow speech development and/or difficulty in pronouncing some words or naming objects.

  6. Undetermined hand preference.

  7. Difficulty remembering anything sequential – e.g. nursery rhymes.


Early Intervention

There are many ways that parents can help their pre-school child (dyslexic or not) to develop the skills they will need on entering school.  Most importantly, there should be no undue stress and emphasis should be on the pleasurable elements.


  1. Encourage listening, stimulate language through conversation, outings, reading stories.

  2. Teach nursery rhymes and finger rhymes to help develop sequencing and memory skills.

  3. Encourage drawing activities, Plasticine / water / sand play to develop hand/eye coordination.

  4. To develop fine motor skills, encourage catching balls, picking up small items, marbles, pick-up-sticks, puzzles.

  5. For body coordination use rhythmic music for marching, jumping and hopping.

  6. Play games/ board games to improve sequencing skills and develop an understanding of taking turns, following rules and social interaction with others.  Children need other children to play with, and parents should try to provide these opportunities thus creating an environment for language and social skills development.

  7. Time spent looking at television should be monitored and programmers carefully chosen to suit age and ability.  Don’t leave your child alone to watch television.  Use this opportunity to develop language skills and vocabulary.

  8. Routine is of the utmost importance as this means security.  Establish regular times for eating, sleeping, school and play.

  9. Children with dyslexia become extremely tired with their efforts to succeed at what may appear to be very simple tasks.  Don’t expect or demand too much.  Let each child progress at his/ her own pace.

  10. Distraction should be kept at a minimum.  It is important for children to have their own particular territory and a place for everything.  If a separate bedroom is not possible, a clearly defined area for their particular use is desirable.

  11. Some children with dyslexia may have difficulty following lengthy instructions.  The memory to hold them may be weak and the attention span short.  Make sure your child is listening and give simple instructions in short amounts to avoid confusion.

  12. For the child with undetermined hand preference, don’t try to influence choice.  If left-handed, please to not encourage the use of the right hand.

  13. This period in your child’s life is a golden opportunity for you to introduce the pleasurable and exciting world of books.  Read together, look at the pictures, explain how books work.  Books and reading should be fun.

  14. Praise whenever you can, especially when attempting something new or difficult.  Your child needs your acceptance in order to take risks to learn new skills.  Creating good attitudes towards learning is the first step towards helping your child prepare for school life.


The importance of the early detection of the child “at risk” is not to make the parent anxious but rather to reduce the areas of developmental delay before the child goes to school.  If the child fails to make accepted progress, early referral and discussion between appropriate professionals is to be encouraged.

These tips may be useful to you:

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