Guest Column: Don’t panic if you suspect your child is dyslexic

Worksop College and Ranby House adopt a multi-sensory approach to learning for children with dyslexia
Worksop College and Ranby House adopt a multi-sensory approach to learning for children with dyslexia

One of my favourite quotations is by Ignacio Estrada and it goes ‘if a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn’.

This encapsulates the approach to teaching pupils with dyslexia at our school.

People don’t really understand what dyslexia means.

It not only affects a child’s reading and writing ability, it is also about organisational skills, working memory and concentration levels.

No two dyslexic brains are identical, which is why an individual, tailored approach to their learning is vital.

Our school’s classrooms are a great example of the multi-sensory approach to teaching and learning with mind maps on the walls, dyslexia-friendly fonts on a coloured background on the interactive whiteboard, and individual iPads.

Early screening is a life-changing benefit, to ensure support is given from the very earliest opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to ask if your school is carrying out dyslexia screening.

At our school, all year one pupils are screened – it is never too soon.

Staff in the team are Dyslexia Institute-trained and provide fully inclusive teaching for children with a range of conditions.

In school, ‘growth mindset’ is a focal point of learning, and this is no different for children with dyslexia.

Used effectively, it can have a huge impact on a dyslexic child’s approach to learning at school and learning any new skill throughout their life.

With a growth mindset, children understand that they can improve their abilities and talents through effort, good teaching, persistence and hard work.

They learn to adapt their way of thinking, from ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘I can’t do that – yet’.

If your child has dyslexia, be loving and patient with them and remember, having dyslexia is frustrating and your child may feel inadequate.

Be consistent with the work that needs to be done, it can get exhausting working every day over and over – for both of you.

Be firm with the consistency as repetition is your child’s friend disguised as the enemy – but also know when it’s time to take a break.

Parents often beat themselves up over the thought that ‘maybe if I had read to her more when she was little, maybe if I had sent her to a nursery earlier, maybe, maybe, maybe’.

We are not perfect as parents so forgive yourself – it is the best thing you can do to help your child.

And finally, have fun because, don’t forget, life should be fun.

Nathalie Paish-Plunkett is head of learning support at Worksop College and Ranby House.