As the mother of a dyslexic child, it's a subject very close to my heart and one on which I write regularly in the hope that sharing what I have learnt may prove helpful to any parent in a similar situation. I've also seen first hand the wide variety of provision within schools.
As always what is ideal for one child may not be the first choice of another but I think understanding what can assist and what could be on offer may give you tools to ask for what could make a real difference to your child.
Support within mainstream schools tends to fall into two spheres, either a child is taught in a small group or one-to-one outside of the classroom, or they are offered 'in class' support. It is each child's absolute right that 'reasonable adjustments' are made to ensure that they can access the curriculum alongside their peers. Some schools offer only this as they don't have the resources to offer anything more tailored, others follow the philosophy of not wanting to 'label' a child by with-drawing them from lessons. Sometimes it's hard to see if philosophy is simply a guise for lack of resource, but certainly many Heads of both state and independent schools talk about a reluctance to withdraw pupils from lessons.
My preference would be to have both 'in class' support - essential - and some extra support outside of the classroom but I met boys in a prep school last week who did exhibit reluctance to be seen as different to their friends. So, getting the 'in class' support right becomes more important than ever.
My minimum support check-list
Here is a quick list of just a few things I might check are in place to ensure adequate thought has been given to how a dyslexic child is given the best chance to work happily in the classroom, for a junior or prep school age child:
- the absolute key is good communication between the SENCo or Learning Support Head and the class teacher about your child's identified learning profile
- key words are written on the board, or as copying can be difficult, preferably given to the child for their individual use
- the teacher focuses on what the child can do and praises their aural contributions to the lessons
- As much visual learning as possible is brought into the lesson - use of coloured pens etc
- Spellings in written work are not over-corrected
- ICT - the use of lap-tops is facilitated and supported, including printing
- Ensure aids provided by the SENCo are being used within each lesson
- Be flexible about taking notes and recording information
- Allow sufficient time to give homework instructions clearly at the end of lessons
- Be sympathetic and supportive
Do let me know of any great examples of practice you have found. It's easy to tell if your child is receiving one-to-one lessons, but it's not always so easy to know what is going on within the classroom.