How to choose the right School?
Choosing a school for your child is probably one the most difficult tasks you will face as a parent and one which will have many repercussions. Remember that no school is ever 100% correct for every child. Look at the school as a whole and establish what strengths of your child would be nurtured there.”
IS SOCIETY FAILING TO HELP CHILDREN WITH DYSLEXIA?
Sadly, dyslexia means that ‘failure’ can pursue boys and girls throughout their school days. One could argue that that this proportion is actually growing with the ever-growing emphasis on literacy. Very interesting document written by David Walker (sadly deceased), Ex-Headmaster, Shapwick School
“In my own schooldays a friend failed O level English no less than seven times – a school record. What failure did not reveal is that he went on to achieve his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and without the benefit of Ordinary Level English. Surely, we all know others who have dyslexia who have achieved much? Jamie Oliver, Albert Einstein, Kiera Knightly are a few that immediately spring to mind.
Dyslexia is often identified through the non ability to achieve the same level of skills and ability in reading, spelling, writing or numbers that meet the same standards as others in that age group. What is less well understood is that people who have dyslexia have strengths in many other areas.
It is so easy to for children to fall prey to thinking they are stupid, just because they are not able to read at the same level as their peers. They may be the slowest member of the class when all around them their peers have seemingly finished their work quite effortlessly and are asking for more. Meantime, they have forgotten what it was they had to do and then get told off for talking to a classmate. They were simply asking for help.
Classrooms demand skills in literacy, numeracy, memory and organisation and here lies the problem. These skills do not come naturally to people who have
dyslexia. Their strengths are in areas that only an appropriate curriculum can exploit – Science, Technology, Art, Sport and ICT. Typical main steam education techniques can give these children the most difficult and traumatic days of their lives. Exposure to a relentless daily failure does not build confidence or self esteem amongst children with dyslexia.
In our society many children leave school without being able to read and write and as a result face being unemployed. This is certainly a reason for the remarkably high proportion of people with dyslexia now occupying our remand centres and our prisons. The cost to society is vast, and much of it could be avoided by screening, intervention, specialist teaching and support when children first attend school.
The remedy is not difficult to achieve. There are tried and tested teaching methods that work well with teaching people who have dyslexia. These come under the umbrella term of ‘multi-sensory’.
It is not that people with dyslexia cannot learn it is simply that they find it difficult to learn using the same techniques as the other 90% of the population. It is vital that children who have dyslexia are taught these learning techniques by specialist teachers, ideally in small teaching groups.
People with dyslexia are not a particularly homogeneous group of learners, they simply have differences in their learning style that need to be addressed through direct teaching using tried and tested multi-sensory methods. A specialist dyslexic teacher will pick up on each child’s individual needs. Some learn better visually, some auditorily, whilst others have difficulties in both learning modes and need kinaesthetic teaching.
It is important to create an environment where strengths are challenged and weaknesses reduced to the point where they are no longer dangerous saboteurs of self-esteem. This cannot be attained in a situation of daily competition with those who do not have dyslexia.
Experience tells me that there is no universal panacea. Progress follows hard work and much support. The final and satisfying reward is a young person not afraid of hard work, who has confidence, a high self esteem, knows the value of doing his or her best, and has the necessary strategies in place to recognise and counter weaknesses.
Dyslexia is an entirely natural condition and the teaching that meets its challenges should be celebrated for the rewards it brings to both the individual and to society itself.”