With all the continued upheaval due the pandemic, here’s some advice for trying to keep the big picture of the coming school year.
DYSLEXIC DEVELOPMENT HAS ITS OWN TIME TABLE
There can be a very late bloom for a lot of the younger years for dyslexics – so don’t compare or expect that connecting the dots in the early years will at all predict life in the future. The pandemic of course has created chaos of its own so a lot of people will be in a similar boat.
Fewer assignments, more time, less testing – these are all positive things for young dyslexic students.
TAKE CARE THAT PANDEMIC REQUIREMENTS DON’T IMPAIR LEARNING
As we’re heading off into more lockdowns and mask requirements, be aware that dyslexic students may be disproportionately disadvantaged when it comes to hearing their teacher and following what is being said.
If your student is still working on decoding, think about learning how to help at home.
Students who are making mistakes with sounds, need to learn sounds slowly, clearly, and often watching mouth positions to distinguish similar sounds. Coordinate with your student’s teacher so you can review learning at home (with masks!).
If your student is learning a lot online, also be aware that sounds and out of sync video can cause significant troubles. Ask your student how the sound is for remote lessons. Are headphones needed or a better connection? Are there school funds available for any upgrades?
Some tutors are meeting in-person (outside, distanced) or remotely, and if you are a parent who is not confident in your ability to help your student, see whether the curriculum you are planning to use has parent coaches or tutors who can help you find your way to help.
Many tutors will also allow you to sit in remote sessions or record them so you can see what activities your tutor is doing with your child.
Regular short practice every day during the week can reinforce formal lessons or tutoring sessions if your student has them only once a week.
If sessions aren’t too long and are manageable, usually most kids will do them… and as they notice they are making improvements, it will get even easier to do.
Avoid long sessions and work with a manageable incremental stepwise structured literacy curriculum.
LISTEN TO YOUR STUDENT AND LISTEN TO YOURSELF
Research from UCSF suggests that dyslexic students are more emotionally sensitive to other people and situations than their non-dyslexic peers. In the midst of the ongoing stress of this pandemic, make sure that you listen and look for signs of stress and unhappiness, and seek professional help if your student may need it.
If you are homeschooling, you probably already know this, but school activities don’t need to be full school days. You may often be able to get what you need done in little time spurts – 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there. When we were homeschooling, our son could focus on math after physical exercise or taking a walk around the neighborhood.
Take care of yourself as well as your kids. Give yourself and your kids breaks when needed and look into positive psychology practices for getting through all the twist and turns the coming school year may send your way. Be grateful for little and big things; ideas for a gratitude journal are here.