It was very exciting to receive the question asked by a teacher “How can I help?”
Usually mothers ask this question and they want a teacher to support their child – and ask me how to explain their child’s needs to their teacher.
Answering that question is actually tricky. Most teachers will be confronted by a child, whose dyslexia has not been corrected. Therefore I have aimed to focus on the most important aspect of support for these children: understanding how they think and how they learn.
If a child had done a program that is not involving sounding out (like a Davis Dyslexia Correction Program) or the One Year School through Sydney Dyslexia, there are more things a teacher could do to help, e.g. how to help the child to regain their focus; how to read without sounding out, how to fully comprehend and how to remember what they have read.
On the video I am actually addressing what is fundamental for teachers to know:
These children are not slow, less intelligent, lazy, broken or disabled. These are not attributes they may voice, but suspicions a teacher may be harbouring.
Nothing could be further from the truth:
- Dyslexic children are highly intelligent, but would be finding it harder to be focused for prolonged periods of time.
- Dyslexic children will present as creative and intuitive, but may struggle to reign in their creative mind on a task at hand
- Dyslexic children may come up with phantastic stories, but struggle to express them in writing, without going off on tangents
- Dyslexic children will be challenged spellers, being able to spell words one day, but not a week later
- Dyslexic children may have a wonderful sense of humour, excelling in art and/or sport
Believing in their abilities, strengths and intelligence is the first step.
I love Goethe’s poem on self-responsibility, that ends with these two sentences:
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse
If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.
How Can A Teacher Help? My Video
If you prefer to read what I say in my above video, I’ve provided the text.
How can a teacher help? This question may come from parents regarding teachers, and some come from teachers, “How can I help?” So I’m trying to answer this from two sides.
If you’re a parent and you want a teacher to understand that your child isn’t broken and the child isn’t stupid. It is really important that they first of all, see them that way, but also treat him that way. It depends on the teacher. For some, it is just overwhelming being a teacher. It is overwhelming having 30 plus children with all different types of needs and different types of learning styles to look after. On top of all the bureaucracy that is piling up. So, it is probably a bit tough to ask a teacher to take on the role of a support person. But what I always ask a teacher is, “Please. Educate yourself enough to know that these are geniuses.” These are not people who are stupid or that you just have to pull them through the years, and they will never end up being anything but a laborer. There’s far more potential in these children.
Of course, the teacher has a huge impact on how they see them, how they treat them and how they help him to understand. And when the child is struggling child has been identified as someone who is maybe dyslexic or more visual as a learner, tactile these approaches are really, really important to apply. Because once a child can learn three-dimensionally, taking in math, something in plasticine or maybe blocks, rather than writing it down. When you see in English, that they are visual, it is a huge difference how you can treat them and how you can understand them. So understanding is fundamental. And once that understanding is there, little changes can make a big, big difference to build up the confidence to actually see what they’re really good at and make a big deal out of that. And also then help them to find that little key.
Enable them to find that nugget in themselves, and where they’re good at, use that as a foundation to build on. More literacy, more numeracy. And I know it is a huge ask because, of course there are so many children with different needs and you have hyperactive and dyslexic and dyspraxic children. You have hyperactive children you have children who are super intelligent. And I think it’s a huge task. I don’t envy.