It shouldn't matter how slowly some children learn as long as we are encouraging them not to stop
If your child is dyslexic, difficulties frequently become more evident in their learning as they progress through school. Dyslexic children can frequently be made to feel different from their peers. Often tasks which may seem simple to others, is a challenge for a child with dyslexia.
Studies show 1 in 10 students will have dyslexia, either mild, moderate or profound. It is often misunderstood as simply bad spelling or reversing of letters, when in fact, the language difficulties experienced by a student with dyslexia often go far deeper. Dyslexia may be best described as an unexpected difficulty when learning to read; however, it can also affect a child’s ability with spelling, speed and word recognition. Understanding your child’s dyslexia is a learning process, filled with much trial and error, frustration and surprise. The teacher must be sensitive to your child’s individual differences they face inside and outside the classroom, especially being aware of the social and emotional aspects of personal life. It can be extremely frustrating for them to work so hard and still be behind, only receiving mediocre grades. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, these difficulties are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities.
There are several approaches a teacher can use to help your child move forward from these difficulties, starting with organisation and planning. These two principles are the core of allowing a child being able to think more clearly and understand the direction they need to be moving towards in their schoolwork.
Offering printed instructions is an additional key practice to help them absorb tasks more clearly. It is also important to bear in mind how effective audio and visual information is for them to engage with, therefore presenting instructions or information for them in either of these ways can be helpful for them. For example, rather than the child copying from the board during the lesson, offering them a printed copy of what has been taught and discussed would be far more useful for them, as well as offering them a recorded audio of the lesson. Having a partner in the classroom can also be very helpful for them to learn as well as help to boost their self-esteem.
Class teachers may be confused by a student whose consistent underachievement seems due to what may look like careless or lack of effort. Your child’s teacher should understand how dyslexia impacts your child’s schoolwork, by showing examples of your child’s work from the past, or possibly notes they have taken in class, can be helpful. This will support the teacher in understanding and reviewing which areas your child may be struggling with, as well as allowing them to note which areas they will need additional assistance. Be sensitive to individual exclusion, minimising the student's feeling of being different and not to over-emphasising in areas where they struggle is extremely important for their self-esteem. School can be a difficult time and a teacher should be aware of a dyslexic student’s desire to be like everyone else. Below are some difficulties where dyslexic children may struggle in school, which would be helpful to make their teacher aware of.
- Organisation: this can include time management, organisation and preparation
- Processing: It may take a little longer to process visual and spoken information
- Difficulty with maths: Maths is a language, it has its own symbols and notation. Many dyslexics can understand the concepts and answers but find writing steps and working out the sums difficult.
- Mental and physical exhaustion: The increased effort of learning can leave many dyslexics feeling drained at the end of the day.
Sharing with your child’s teacher what methods of learning have and haven’t worked is a great way to help the teacher understand what approaches of teaching work best for your child. Many teachers have little training about dyslexia, which is why as a parent it is so important to communicate with their teachers about your child’s difficulties. For example, many dyslexic children absorb information well with mind maps including different colours, allowing them to differentiate between the sub-topics presented and helping to organise the information in their brains. Emphasising keywords for certain subjects can also be helpful, for example highlighting key figures or dates in History.
Patience and understanding are undeniably essential skills a teacher must require, but it is particularly important when teaching a dyslexic child. Asking a child to read out loud will probably seem more daunting to them than for others, they may try and attempt to avoid reading in front of their classmates in order to protect themselves against the potential of being made fun of. Dyslexia can be difficult to cope with inside most traditional school settings; therefore, your child may find it exhausting mentally and physically, which again is an important circumstance to communicate with your child’s teacher.
It is important to allow a child to develop their own learning style and confidence in their own abilities. There are some skills where a child with dyslexia may excel and it’s important to utilise these traits. Engaging a child in the learning process can help to improve self-esteem and well being in education. Many pioneers in the world have been dyslexics who have used their unique skills to make a difference.
- Creative skills: This can include art, music, design and performance
- Problem-solving: Critical and abstract thinking is a skill that many dyslexics have developed
- Group work: Dyslexics often enjoy interacting with others and teamwork.
Every child who is dyslexic has an individual style of learning and it can be challenging for both the student and teacher. Embarking on this journey with an open mindset and a yearning to make a difference can be a rewarding experience for a teacher as well as the child.
If your child is experiencing visual difficulties, then consider an assessment with a behavioural optometrist. This type of assessment can discover deeper visual problems that would not be detected in a standard eye test and can often occur in children who otherwise have perfect vision. Behavioural Optometry cannot directly address dyslexia but can teach dyslexic to use their vision more efficiently allowing children to excel in areas where they previously struggled.