The majority of parents will notice pretty quickly if their child is having problems in school.
Always being at the bottom of the class, not understanding what’s happening or knowing
the answer and not being able to share the information can be very upsetting for a child.
This can make it all the more upsetting when the people you go to refuse to acknowledge
that there’s an actual problem, instead insisting that your kid is simply unmotivated, won’t
listen, is slow or naughty.
It’s difficult to know what to do in these situations. You might even end up believing those
teachers if they keep insisting for long enough. Surely degrees and awards aren’t the most
important things in life? Why can’t you just leave everyone alone? Surely, if you really love
your child, you’ll love them no matter how well they do in school. The important thing here,
though, is not the education.
What’s important is making sure that your child gets the same opportunities as everyone
else in their school.
Nobody wants their kid to get unfair treatment as a result of their own actions. Many
parents are concerned that if they keep “nagging” the teachers, the resulting resentment
could negatively alter the way in which their child is treated. The same concerns can also
arise when it comes to approaching the head teacher too many times. So who’s the best
person to talk to?
If you want to better understand what you’re seeing (and what their teachers may not be
seeing) in your child, you should make sure you understand the common signs of dyslexia.
Your child may have dyslexia if they…
❖ Tend to mix up or leave out smaller words (of, to) when they read out loud;
❖ Skip or struggle to sound out new words;
❖ Struggle to explain parts of a story they’ve just read;
❖ Tend to make the same mistakes several times;
❖ Get frustrated and stressed while reading, or avoid it altogether;
❖ Have a reading age lower than that of their peers;
❖ Take a very long time to complete reading assignments;
❖ Have trouble with spelling, quickly forget how to spell many of the words they study
or spell the same word correctly and incorrectly in the same exercise;
❖ Have an easier time answering questions about a text if you read it aloud to them;
❖ Can’t recognise common words at a glance, such as where and there, and try to
sound them out;
❖ Often identify words incorrectly, even after having just read the same word correctly
in the same text.
Start the conversation!
Your child’s teacher should be the first person you talk to if you’re concerned with their
progress in reading and writing. If you or the teacher believe this is an ongoing issue, you
should then meet with your GP to check if your child has any underlying health issues –
such as vision or hearing impairments – which may be interfering with their studies.
Different teaching methods may need to be tried if your child doesn’t appear to have any
underlying health problems that explain their difficulties. This is also the point at which you
should request an assessment to identify any special educational needs that might be
present. A family history of special educational needs can be a strong indicator that this is
You should be able to access copies of the school’s Special Needs Policy and Information
Report from the school secretary.
Take the tests
To see how well your child reads and writes and match them with the best dyslexia
program for them, an educational specialist or psychologist will need to carry out a few
tests. ADHD and depression can also cause educational difficulties, so the specialist may
also test for these factors. A learning plan can be created once a firm diagnosis is made,
and you can work on this together with your child’s teacher, educational psychologist and
Address problems they have in school.
❖ Your child’s school will be able to help them better if you work closely together. Your
child needs access to certain services, and you might have to push to get them. An
IEP that helps you track progress and spells out your child’s needs can be set up if
you work with the school.
❖ Take advantage of the technology available to you. As your child gets older,
smartphones, laptops, tablets and many other helpful tools will come in handy. As
long as the assignment allows for their use, things like web dictionaries, text-to-
speech softwares and spell-check can make a massive difference.
❖ Organisation is your friend. When you have dyslexia, keeping organised can be
really challenging. If you’re able to sort work into smaller chunks, it’ll be easier for
your child to complete it. Keep track of schoolwork using a system that you’ve
worked out together.
Work with your child!
Treat your child’s difficulties as a challenge, not a failure. Your child will have strengths and
weaknesses. Identify what these are, and work with them! Every child has a unique way of
learning – you just need to find yours. Support, persistence, love and routine should all be
part of the recipe. There are lots of things you can do at home – talk to your child’s
psychologist about strategies and programs you can start together.
Try to read together as much as you possibly can. Your child’s reading can be supported in
loads of different ways, such as…
❖ Helping your child to read along with audiobooks;
❖ Reading and re-reading their favourite books together;
❖ Chatting about the stories as you read them;
❖ Using school books, but branching out into comics and books about your child’s
❖ Taking turns reading books aloud together;
❖ Making sure they spend some time reading alone, both quietly and aloud.
If in doubt, lead by example! You need to make time to read for pleasure on your own.
Reading can be enjoyable, and if your child’s main experience of it is an unpleasant one,
they may never get to find that out. If your child is reading quietly on their own, try picking
up a book and doing the same.
Play can be a powerful learning tool. Maybe you could try…
❖ Inventing dances, jingles and poems to help your child remember things;
❖ Playing silly rhyming games and practicing nursery rhymes (if your child isn’t too
❖ Playing word games.
For more information about dyslexia, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to
Dyslexia which takes you step-by-step through diagnosis, treatment, education and into
career options. Need2Know also have some great books about Asperger’s Syndrome ,
ADHD and Anorexia . Whether you’re a student, a teacher or a parent, we have all the
information you need!