It is Dyslexia Awareness Week and this is what parents of dyslexic children want to make you all aware of.
So, this isn't a post about what dyslexia is, what the signs are or anything else of that nature. This is pure and simple, straight from the heart emotion from parents of dyslexic children.
1. Please be aware that our dyslexic children have to work harder than the other children in your class. This often means that they are really tired after your lesson - even if they have not managed to complete the work.
Oh and please do not keep them in at break time to finish this work because they really do need a break from working to enable them to recover energy/enthusiasm for the next part of the day.
2. Please be aware that when they look as though they are not paying attention and are 'zoning out' it is because they are trying to process and understand what you are teaching or the task you have set. It does not mean that they are not paying attention. A dyslexic student often has a slower processing speed than most other children, which also means they will take longer to complete a task.
3. They can be easily distracted. This is because they have been assessed as having a poor working memory - working memory helps us to concentrate and focus on a task. I know it is really annoying when you have an easily distracted child in your class, but you need to help them stay on task rather than be frustrated by them.
4. If you must set homework, then please make it interesting, worthwhile and brief. If you don't know why you are setting it, then preferably don't!
Also, you must be aware that homework takes a dyslexic child much longer to complete - so what you think takes 20 minutes probably takes more like 1 hour. Even when they have been working hard for that time, you may still only get a few sentences written down.
If you must give spellings to learn as homework, then please give our dyslexic children fewer to learn. Please also be aware that even if they do manage to learn the spellings for the test, they are unlikely to remember them the following week. Hopefully, this might make you question whether this homework is actually worthwhile.
5. Please try your absolute hardest not to take them out of a subject that they love to do more reading and spelling. Our dyslexic children often love music, art and sport. Please try and find another time (assembly I find is not all that popular!) - this subject may be the only reason they want to go to school.
6. Repetitive reading will not help them read better. You actually do need to tackle the underlying reason for them not picking up reading such as having phonological awareness (knowing how sounds map on to letters) or recognising letters.
7. Be patient with them and don't dismiss them as lazy/stupid or ignorant. When you find yourself thinking this, check whether the school knows that they are dyslexic. If nothing is on file, then perhaps this should trigger an alarm bell for you to investigate what is actually happening for this pupil.
8. Slow down so that our dyslexic children can keep up with what is going on in the lesson. Be prepared to explain a concept again and don't make that child feel like they shouldn't have bothered you.
9. Know who the dyslexic children are in your class and the extra help that you are supposed to give them. If they are supposed to receive printed notes, then please do this. If you are to write their homework down for them, then please make sure you do. These accommodations can make a big difference to your dyslexic pupils and the biggest complaint from parents is that teachers ignore what has been agreed by the school.
10. Please educate yourself about dyslexia so that you can understand these pupils. They are not an insignificant number of pupils - around 10% of your class will be dyslexic. They are usually very bright children who excel with understanding concepts and ideas but struggle with the basics of reading, spelling and writing.
We know that teaching isn't an easy profession and it can feel like an uphill battle most days. All of us just want you to understand our children better and make decisions that work for both of you. You probably don't feel that well supported when faced with children who work differently to others but our key message is slow down, stay patient and think through what you are doing.