One in every ten children is dyslexic and many more struggle with reading and writing. Early intervention and a structured multi-sensory teaching programme can make all the difference. As a qualified teacher and member of the British Dyslexia Association, I have taught countless children to read and will help your child to become a confident and competent reader as well as helping them find ways to improve their writing and spelling.

Contact me today to find out how I can help you and your child.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Who is responsible for educating your child?

Who is responsible for educating your child? If you home educate then you will know that the responsibility for ensuring your child receives a 'suitable' education lies entirely with you. But what if you send your child to school? Doesn't your responsibility end at the school gate? 

Well, no it doesn't. All parents with children at school are used to supporting them with their homework, listening to them read and doing what we can outside of school to complement their education. We may make trips to museums or buy them books but we largely rely on schools to educate our children. 


Don't get me wrong, schools do have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a broad and inclusive curriculum suited to each child's individual needs. But, and I'm going to get technical here, according to Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, it is the duty of parents to to ensure that their child receives a 'suitable education' for them.

A big part of this duty can be met by sending your child to school but if they have additional learning needs, for example, dyslexia, that the school is failing to adequately address then it is up to you as a parent, to ensure these needs are met.

This may sound daunting but in truth, the legislation is to your benefit - particularly if you find yourself at loggerheads with the school over how to meet your child's needs.

Many schools are strapped for cash. Even those that aren't find that the LEA places constraints on them that limit their ability to help children with special or additional learning needs. 

However, knowing that you as a parent have to ensure that they get adequate help means that if you need to take your child out of school to receive specialist support then the law is on your side.

If you feel your child needs additional support that the school aren't providing, then seek out a private specialist teacher. Then approach the school and tell them that you intend to take your child out for regular lessons to get additional support and ask when would be the best time. Some schools will work with you on this without further explanation or discussion.

If the school are resistant, try not to be confrontational - even if you think the school has let your child down. Explain that you appreciate that they have budget constraints but are doing their best to support your child. Explain that you have a duty to ensure that your child's needs are met - quote the Education Act if you feel it will help. Present the use of a specialist teacher as a positive - for the school as well as your child; your child will do better. This in turn will improve the school's overall results as well.

I provide a letter for parents to take into school, which helps.The key thing is to get your child the help that they need as soon as you can - wherever you can. Don't let anyone stand in your way.

If your child is struggling then contact me today to get them the help and support they need to succeed. Screening and tuition available now.



Thursday, 15 February 2018

Are you or your partner dyslexic? Then your child could be too.

Are you or your partner dyslexic? Then your child stands a good chance of being dyslexic too. It is hereditary. Your child has a 50% chance of being dyslexic as well.

So, what can you do to help your child?
Well, the first thing to know, is that if you teach them as if they are dyslexic and they're not then you won't do any harm. The way dyslexic children need supporting benefits all children with gaining literacy skills. On the flip-side, if your child is dyslexic and you don't address it, then that will be damaging.

If your child is very little, then teach them lots of nursery rhymes, read lots of stories and put your finger under the words so that they start to make the link between what you are saying and the words on the page. Familiarise your child with letters; buy them an alphabet chart - I put my daughter's chart up next to her nappy change mat when she was a 18 months, give them foam letters to play with in the bath, magnetic letters for the fridge and wooden inset alphabet puzzles.

As they get older, you can play games like I Spy. You can use letter sounds or make a collection of picture cards with rhyming names e.g pot, cot, hat, mat etc and play 'I spy something that rhymes with .....' Being able to rhyme is very important when it comes to reading. It is also something many dyslexic children struggle with.

Before your child starts school, think about getting them screened. Schools will typically wait till children are about seven or eight before screening for dyslexia - and some, sadly, won't screen at all. If you know your child is likely to be dyslexic and need support, it is prudent to arm yourself with proof before your child starts school. 

Screening for dyslexia is possible from four and a half years old. Screening does not confirm dyslexia but will give you a sense of how likely your child is to be dyslexic and will also give you an insight into what they find particularly difficult and the sort of support they need. 

If your child is already at school and struggling, make sure the staff know that you or your partner are dyslexic. Share your concerns about your child and see what they can do to support them. If you're not happy with the response or feel your child needs more, then seek out a specialist tutor and consider a screening test to establish their difficulties.

Above all, don't panic. Help is out there; many schools are good at dealing with dyslexia but if they cannot meet your child's needs or if your child needs additional support then tutors like me are available to supplement your child's education and help you to ensure that they reach their potential.

If your child is struggling then contact me today to get them the help and support they need to succeed. Screening and tuition available now.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Is Dyslexia really a Superpower?

Is dyslexia a superpower or is it simply a disability that makes everyday life difficult? It is true that a great number of creative people in our society are dyslexic, but there are many more working in low paid jobs or languishing in prison. So what makes the difference, is it possible for all dyslexic children to grow up to reach their full potential and follow their dreams?

I'm reading a book at the moment entitled Dyslexia is my Superpower (most of the time) which seeks to explore the positives and negatives of being dyslexic and what can be done to best support dyslexic learners. It is a collection of interviews with children who have dyslexia and the tips for supporting them come from the children themselves. 

So, what are the 'superpowers'? Well, dyslexics tend to be very creative in their thinking and many of the children in the book talked about being able to solve problems in different ways to their friends. 

Dyslexics tend to be good at visualizing things, often being able to see how something will look before they have made it. A lot of the children talked about being able to see things in 3D and many said that art and design were favourite subjects.

Of course, the children also described their struggles with dyslexia; as well as struggling with reading, writing and spelling, many of the children also found maths hard. Some also described problems with memory. The major impact on their lives was that it took them longer and they felt they had to work harder to do the same things as their friends. 

So, what helped them? Finding out that they were dyslexic was key for many as it proved that they weren't 'just stupid'. Specialist teaching was also a turning point along with supportive family and friends. Adjustments at school were also helpful to many such as more time in exams, handouts in lessons, quieter classrooms and patient teachers.

As with the children I teach, the children interviewed had great plans for their futures with many wanting to pursue creative or caring professions. Some wanted to become teachers so they could support other dyslexic children.

What was striking and upsetting was how long it took for some children to be identified - one child in Wales went through primary school without anyone spotting his dyslexia - and without learning to read at all. Many parents also had to battle to get their children supported.

Despite the positive titleDyslexia is my Superpower also reveals how much more needs to be done to ensure all dyslexic children get the help and support they need.

If your child is struggling then contact me today to get them the help and support they need to succeed. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Handling homework meltdowns

It's seven o'clock. You are preparing the evening meal when your child reveals that they have homework. Your initial response is one of irritation; why didn't they tell you earlier? You stop what you are doing and sit down with them to try to work out what they have got to do. It looks pretty straightforward but when you discuss what needs to be done with your child, you are met with resistance, confusion and tears. 

From time to time, all children will experience homework that they don't like or understand, but for children with dyslexia, perplexing and time consuming homework is the norm. Many will try avoidance tactics, putting it off till the last minute or persuade you to tell them what to write. Others will really want to do it to the best of their ability and will spend hours on a homework designed to take twenty minutes. 

One mum recently told me that their valuable family time at the weekend was "ruined" by her dyslexic son's desire to get his spelling right in his homework. "It takes him hours," she said. "It makes me cry when I see all the effort he puts into something that is only supposed to take 30 minutes."

So, what can you do to help? Well, here are a few tips collected from my pupils and their families.

  • Ask your child if they have homework as soon as you get home so that there is plenty of time to complete it.
  • Break the task down into manageable chunks; if you can, do a little bit over several days. If you only have one evening to complete the work then set a timer and take regular breaks.
  • Read the questions to your child and ensure they understand the task before you begin.
  • Agree a time limit and have something fun lined up for when the work is finished e.g playing a game or watching a favourite programme on their tablet.
  • Talk to the class teacher if homework is taking over your life, taking too long or unduly upsetting your child; discuss strategies to reduce the stress on your child.
If dyslexia has not yet been identified or help and support in the school is inadequate then contact a specialist dyslexia tutor. Tuition will help your child  learn strategies to help them cope with homework as well as improving their general literacy.

Many schools, once they know a child is dyslexic, will allow pupils to complete homework more tailored to their needs, so consider dyslexia screening to help you and your child's school to understand where your child needs support.

Most importantly of all, don't let homework become a battleground. Remind yourself and your child that it isn't the most important thing in the world and if you think you have spent long enough on it, then put the books away and do something else. 

If your child is struggling then contact me today to get them the help and support they need to succeed.