If you want to know more about what dyslexia is, and getting your child tested for dyslexia please click here
On this page we look at the simple issue: what can parents do to help a child who has dyslexia?
Our view is simple. If you have (or think you have) dyslexia yourself, then sadly there is probably little that you can do to help your child unless you yourself have had detailed help and support so that you have now overcome many of the difficulties dyslexia brings.
And you need to remember that dyslexia is a genetic illness – that means that it is passed from the parents to the child.
But – and this is important – dyslexia is not passed on automatically. It can skip generations and it can also just suddenly appear in a child. So if you have got an average ability in English (meaning you could pass Grade C GCSE English language with a suitable bit of revision), then yes, you can help your child providing one other factor is in place.
You need a suitable relationship between yourself and your son/daughter which allows you to work together without conflict.
If there is stress and tension between you and your child when you sit down and start working together, then helping your child overcome the dyslexia is probably not going to be a success. Your child will probably be anxious because of his/her inability to do what most children can do – get simple spellings right. So this is not a situation where any more stress is needed.
This isn’t a reflection on you – I myself have advised hundreds of parents on the issue of working with their own child – and I always admit, that with one of my three children there was a period of several years in which we simply could not work together. All I could do was back off and wait. And I’m an educationalist – so I ought to be able to do it!
So we have two conditions that need to be met before you can help your own child overcome dyslexia: you need to be reasonably able at English spelling and punctuation yourself, and you need to be able to work harmoniously with your child for about ten minutes a day, six days a week.
If that is the case and you think your child might have dyslexia, you should follow the information for parents on this site starting here. If you give your child the online test and we find dyslexia is the most likely explanation for the problems being faced we will not only send you a report, but also a range of materials for you to use.
But if you can’t help your child, what can you do?
Obviously the school may well be able to help, but if you feel that they are very overloaded with other demands, or if you decided to organise the test yourself because the school did not wish to be involved, there are two other routes you could explore.
Of course you could bring in a private tutor. However here I would urge great caution, because there are many private tutors who are very good at helping children without dyslexia gain good grades in English, but who have no real understanding of dyslexia. Their approach is to teach in the standard way but more slowly.
This invariably fails, and can cause more damage to the child I would advise that you ask the private tutor to show you the materials he/she uses and explain how they work for dyslexic children. If there is any hint of using standard materials that are used with most children, I would strongly urge that you do not follow this approach.
Normally speaking however the school should be willing to help you - and it may help to smooth matters with the school if you show the SENCO a copy of our report on your child.