We need to show children with dyslexia how to effectively harness their visual skills for reading and spelling.
By Sara Haboubi
Since the advent of COVID-19, many parents have been struggling to know how to effectively help their children with schoolwork at home. This has added to the stress that families have experienced during lock-down. And for parents of children with dyslexia, this struggle is even more challenging.
Dyslexia continues to affect around 10-20% of people. In Ireland, there are more than 50,000 primary school children struggling with basic reading and spelling skills. Teachers also struggle to deal with this ‘high-incident’ issue within mainstream classes. Indeed, recent research found that 97% of teachers agree that they would benefit from training in methods of teaching pupils with dyslexia.
Focus on strengths
The drive internationally in recent years has been towards recognising the strengths that many pupils with dyslexia have, rather than only focusing on dyslexia as a learning disability. Thinking in a ‘big-picture, global, and creative way’ is a strength often seen in students with dyslexia, and many such students also have highly developed visual skills.
However, reading and spelling in the early years are taught mostly through a small-detail linear process of separating out the sounds of the language. This predominantly auditory way of learning to read has proved to be difficult for those with dyslexia.
There is a solution
The solution is to show students with dyslexia how to effectively harness their visual skills for reading and spelling, which will in turn enable them to master basic literacy skills in a way that suits how their brains are wired. And this approach can be used alongside any phonics programme that a child is following.
Pioneering online course for parents
The pioneering course for parents which I have developed in partnership with Paula Montie, retired Primary School Principal, gives parents the knowledge, understanding, and practical tools for helping their children to acquire the fundamental, underlying skills that lead to proficient spelling and fluent reading.
This course has been developed in response to the needs of parents who are looking for ways in which they can help their children while home-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The teachers’ version of this course has been used successfully by staff from over 70 primary schools in Ireland. One of the first schools to pilot the process was St Joseph’s National School, Rathwire, Killucen, Westmeath – you can watch Principal Sé McCarthy talking about their experience in a 10-minute interview on YouTube.
How can parents sign up?
The course is online, and details can be found on www.jumpstartinglearningskills.com.
To help parents cope with the challenges of home-schooling at this time, the Jumpstarting™ Learning Skills team is waiving the normal price of €97, and is offering the course free to all parents.
Sign up at www.jumpstartinglearningskills.com