As a dyslexia tutor, I sometimes see the same words repeatedly giving students trouble. Sometimes, the words that they mix up may be very close in spelling. A good example are the words “stared” and “started”. In my years of dyslexia tutoring, there are few words as consistently mixed up by my students as these two. One of the symptoms of dyslexia is that a student will read one sound in a word correctly, but fill in the rest almost randomly. In our dyslexia tutoring program, we work hard on getting our students to sound words out instead of guessing at them, or breezing over them without reading them correctly. “Stared” and “started” are particularly difficult for dyslexics, because they are separated by only one letter! So, if a student misses that “t”, they will typically end up saying “stared”. Likewise, when they see “stared”, they often insert a “t” and say “started”.
One of the best ways to help a student with dyslexia overcome difficulty with these words is to have them read out loud to you. Anytime they make a mistake on a word, have them go back to it and sound it out piece by piece. If they add a sound that is not there, point this out to them. Improvement may require lots of reinforcement, but this method really does work, and it is one of the strategies that we use a lot in our online dyslexia tutoring program.