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.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Why the lockdown is a golden opportunity for dyslexic children and parents

Over the last week I've picked up on a lot of anxiety from parents voicing concerns that their children will fall even further behind their peers during the current lock-down. Many parents have already reached breaking point trying to get their children to complete all the schoolwork that well intentioned and hardworking teachers have provided. If this includes you then stop. Take a deep breath. 

First, remember, teachers are not expecting all the children to complete the work. They have provided a lot of tasks because a) that's their job and b) there will be children out there who need the routine and/or academic stimulus to maintain their mental health and well-being. Teachers are aware that most parents aren't teachers, that many parents are still working either as key-workers or from home and that many children will find it hard to accept classroom lessons being delivered by a parent! 

So, what can you do? In all honesty, now is actually a perfect opportunity to support your child in the way you know best. You may not be a qualified teacher but you are, and always will be, your child's first and most influential teacher. Remember all the things you taught them before they went to school? Walking? Talking? Using the toilet? Making friends? The list goes on and on...

Take this time to focus on building your child's self-esteem. Let them concentrate on the things they love and are good at. My pupil's interests range from creating fabulous comic books to baking and sketching to developing an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter! If you can cover some of the school curriculum through their interests then do so. For example, if you have a budding chef in your home then encourage them to record their recipes; write them down or use voice to text software to record their recipes. Maybe compile their own personalised recipe book. Encourage illustrations, research recipes on-line or make videos. 

There are lots of positive role models out there, in all walks of life, like the chef Jamie Oliver, who are dyslexic so maybe take some time to find out more about them. Let your child see that they can be successful and happy too.

Alongside raising self esteem and letting them take the lead on tasks, you can also use this time to teach them useful skills that will help them in the classroom. These could include:

1) Undertaking an on-line phonics program like Nessy or Reading Eggs. Most children, particularly primary aged children love these and make good progress.

2) Getting an on-line specialist tutor (I've moved all my lessons to Skype during the lock-down with very positive results). A different face can make all the difference and a specialist tutor will be able to gauge where your child needs specific support.

3) Buying a teaching manual and working through it. Many children respond well to structured multi-sensory programs like Toe by Toe and Alpha to Omega. You can find these on Amazon or you may be able to order them via your local bookshop if they offer deliveries.

4) Teaching your child to touch-type. The BBC have a good free touch type course called Dance Mat aimed at 7-11 year olds. Ideal if your child struggles with their writing speed or has poor handwriting.

5) Playing games such as Uno and pairs to improve memory. Try brain-training games online. Some children find these help to improve their working memory.

6) If your child struggles with maths then check out books by Ronit Bird, The Dyscalculia Toolkit is my favourite. Playing games on-line like those on Sumdog or Mathletics can also help.

7) Listening to audio-books. These allow your child to enjoy books without the pressure of having to get the words right. Audible are giving away lots of free children's audio books whilst schools here remain closed.

Please don't worry. Teachers know that they will have to support most children to catch up with the curriculum when they return to school. Focus for now on being happy, staying healthy and, if you can, helping your child to learn those key skills that will help them to succeed and to feel better about themselves. 

Above all, stay safe and enjoy each others company. 

Want to know more? Contact me today to get your child the help and support they need to succeed. 

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