5 tips to help teachers and parents better support dyslexic children

With so much information out there, below I attempt to bring together 5 tips to help teachers and parents adapt behaviours around dyslexia thinking to better support dyslexic children.  As a mother of two dyslexic young men, I have made my mistakes around their abilities over the years.

I wanted to protect them from what I perceived as an outdated education system and in doing so held them back in many ways labelling them “disadvantaged” and other unhelpful titles.

When they were young, I told them “you are intelligent you’re just not academic”, how wrong was I!

Dyslexic children can do anything within their differing abilities, finding the key and listening to multi-channel advice to find the key for your child or student is the answer.

Accepting perceived imperfection is a struggle for many of us, what we must to do is normalise it.

I was so thrilled to see that LinkedIn has added dyslexic thinking to its skills on the platform, making this way of thinking something to be proud of rather than a disadvantage.

1. Redefine dyslexia

Made by Dyslexia offers this powerful definition and are redefining dyslexia whilst helping teachers and parents spot, support and empower children.

“Dyslexia influences as many as 1 in 5 people and is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. As a result, dyslexic individuals have differing abilities, with strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills and challenges with spelling, reading and memorising facts.

Generally, a dyslexic cognitive profile will be uneven when compared to a neurotypical cognitive profile. This means that dyslexic individuals really do think differently.

Traditional benchmarking disadvantages dyslexics, measuring them against the very things they find challenging. “

2. Growth Mindset

For too long dyslexic children are left feeling they cannot ever achieve, and they are just not “academic”.

This has been proven wrong so many times by many successful entrepreneurial dyslexics like Richard Branson, Nick Jones, Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley.

Did you know Sir Isaac Newton was dyslexic, and half of NASA scientists are dyslexic too?

We must approach this deep problem with a growth mindset rather than a fixed one. We must listen and bring together the many voices in our society who know how to help children with dyslexia value their way of thinking and achieve.

Often these views will be at odds to that we are use to and unless we listen change will not happen.

Carole Dwecks brilliant video on developing a growth mindset and the power of the words “not yet” or “yet” is a must watch.

3. Teach using different formats 

Benjamin Franklin (a dyslexic) said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”

Studying with Dyslexia website has many useful resources for parents and teachers who need help to think of new ideas.

Studying with Dyslexia blog about Channel 4’s “The Write Offs” includes on of the participants  Dean Roebuck’s final speech on the show about wasting the potential of dyslexic children in school, a must read for everyone.

4. Changing Paradigms Sir Ken Robinson 

Sir Ken Robinson wrote several books including The Element, Out of Our Minds and Finding Your Element. They are all worth reading, however if you are time limited this RSA short animation “Changing Paradigms” is brilliant. Sir Ken covers ADHD another condition which is often associated with dyslexics in which he challenges its origin and whether it is a false condition.

5. Help dyslexic children discover their passion

Probably the most well known dyslexic of them all, Richard Branson, offers great advice in his latest “Ask Richard” page on LinkedIn, follow him and read the full article to learn how to help a dyslexic thrive.

Richard says; “My advice to any parent with a dyslexic child (especially if they are feeling discouraged and exhausted), is to help your child discover their passions and strengths, and support their pursuits as much as possible. This is so important to help build self-esteem, which is often knocked by school curriculums and unknowing peers. We need to constantly remind dyslexic kids of the achievements that dyslexics (such as Albert Einstein and Walt Disney) have made, and the skills (such as creativity, empathy, problem-solving and resilience) that dyslexic thinking gives you. These skills are in such high demand in today’s workplaces”

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