Now that we’ve read about a gazillion articles on what it is…let’s get to work helping our little tykes out. These first 3 strategies are easy to implement. Part 2 will be a little more involved, and I’m working on finishing that right now.
Strategy 1: Embrace the written word.
Captions: This one is easy. Start with captioning tv. I don’t know about other parents, but we got rid of cable a couple of years ago and live off of Amazon now. I love no commercials. The great thing about this is that I can select the shows that I want the kids to watch – without commercials. Besides, I’ve got a hunch that commercials are probably pretty confusing to a hyperlexic kiddo. For that matter, I’ll bet commercials are confusing to lots of young kids. Why interrupt the story for an advertisement for Legos?
Anyways, for every single show or movie they watch, make sure that the captions are always on. Your hyperlexic kid is probably reading them. The best part of this is that kids watch the same thing over and over and over… this means that they memorize where the written words are and are able to follow the actions and facial cues and expressions. You are effectively putting words to actions. That’s something that books have trouble doing – conveying actions and emotions with pictures. You have to look really hard to find one. This way, it isn’t work to the kids. They have already memorized the movie anyways. This way they learn to comprehend reading the movie too. And isn’t that really the goal?
Strategy 2: Embrace the technology at your fingertips.
The iPad and Kindle have been some of the best tools for us in the years between 2 1/2 to 5. There are so many apps that have visual tools for teaching vocabulary with pictures. Some of them are fun. Some of them are boring. Here are a few that work for us. (In this case, sorry to Kindle but the iPad had more apps and it was generally more user friendly. I know the cost of an iPad is astronomical. That’s why we buy them refurbished from Amazon and put an OtterBox on them. Here’s one (as long as the link lasts).
ABC Mouse – This one works great on a laptop too. I was able to teach my son to use a mousepad on a small Mac laptop just before he turned 5 very easily using this program. We signed up for the year. This is a really great one for learning reading comprehension.
Really, you can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss apps. All are available in iTunes too!
(I’m working on getting these links – for now, a search in the App Store will pull these up quickly).
SpeechBox (This one was really a hit)
Reading Raven 1 and 2 (fun and engaging, while teaching phonetics too – Win!)
Oceans (From Touch and Tilt, by Scholastic)
Dinosaurs ((From Touch and Tilt, by Scholastic)
Flashcard apps (There are lots of these)
Bugs and Numbers 1 & 2 (This is actually a problem solving gaming app but it works awesome for the natural decoding nature of the hyperlexic kid)
Pocket Chart Pro (For your spacial learning kiddo – this one isn’t as “pretty” as other apps but it works great for reasoning out actions along with words)
Dexteria and Dexteria Jr. (helps with physical manipulation – which helps later when you teach them the mousepad on the laptop)
Articulation Station Pro (This one works best as a homeschooling tool – meaning it’s not one they will naturally play with. What I love about it? It helps to relate letters and phonetic sounds to where they might appear in a word – along with the flash cards to demonstrate it.)
Strategy 3: YouTube can be your friend too
There area several channels on YouTube that can help your child more than you know. A few of them may be designed for different situations, but they seem to help tremendously. I’d recommend setting up an account so that you can create a “favorites” list so that the you can get to the channels quickly. You have to set up a YouTube account to do that. However, if creating a YouTube account is not your thing, just type in these channel names and you will be all set.
StoryLine Online This one is awesome and pretty soothing to the parent’s ears too. These books are read by famous and talented screen actors who know how to bring lines to life. Now I know, that doesn’t sound like something a Hyperlexic kid would get into – audible book reading. I get it. Audible comprehension is often a big problem. But in this case, they use dramatic music, even some light animation, background sounds, and the actors are very talented at using voice inflection. It makes the story jump off of the page for kids. What’s great is that you can then buy the books so the kids can follow along. They learn the inflection in the words and sounds and it does relay emotion, meaning, and context. A few of our favorites were: Library Lion, I Need My Monster, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, Stellaluna, Harry the Dirty Dog, The Rainbow Fish, and Gugi Gugi.
English Singsing This is an interesting one, and a real eye opener for my kiddo. The animation is not exactly Pixar, but it is aimed at teaching kids who do not speak English as a primary language to learn English conversation and context- sound familiar? I think it was created for kids who speak Mandarin but I could be way off. They use dialogue situations, they put the words right on the screen, highlighting each word as they go. They speak slowly and clearly. My son took to this so fast that he started correctly using the words and phrases within a day. Think about it – if we recognize we are teaching language as if it were a second language, there are tons of resources out there to help kids all around the world do that very thing . So tap into them.
Have Fun Teaching Okay, so this isn’t one “specifically” geared to a hyperlexic kiddo. And yes, it sounds like the early 90’s boy band (remember New Kids on the Block?). But the kids LOVE this. The science videos for seasons, weather, the water cycle, the planets, are a big hit for hyperlexic kids. Why? Because they seem to respond really well to science, don’t they. They love the stuff. It’s not fiction so they aren’t just struggling to comprehend complex human interactions. They get to just have fun with some of their favorite subjects and dance and hop around at the same time. This channel even has an exercise video. I was shocked to find my 5 year old hyperlexic kiddo doing pushups in the living room one day. Remember that It’s okay for some things to just be fun. Besides…I may or may not have danced to some of these songs too. If you can actually listen to this music for 5 minutes and not bust out a move…you are stronger than I, my friend.
Summary of Strategies 1, 2, 3: These are meant to be easy things to inject into your kid’s life. They don’t require a ton of interaction from you just yet. That’s okay. Remember, these kids are already teaching themselves the written word (which is actually a human invention – and that’s kind of awesome by itself). It’s okay that a lot of these tools are ones that you can set up and run on auto pilot. You’ve got a lot of your plate. You probably have about a gazillion other things pulling your attention anyways. These are meant to be aides and they do a good job, without driving you crazy.
Just remember this. In the past, your little hyperlexic kiddo was called “bookish”. It wasn’t a derogatory remark and I like it a lot. This kind of description was one that wasn’t a snub. At the end of the day, your hyperlexic kiddo has his (or her) own journey and path to follow and we are really just the facilitators getting them to successful adulthood. These kids are destined for great things. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Einstein syndrome” for a reason. Enjoy the journey – and the challenges -and don’t be scared. It’s a fun ride if you let it be.