Learning in lockdown has been a challenge, and with many schools still teaching remotely, an increased number of parents will continue to feel overwhelmed. This is especially true for parents of children with learning difficulties.
As a parent, you are now playing the role of teacher if your child has dyslexia, you’re now also supposed to be a dyslexia expert (as well as supporting them emotionally, physically, academically). There are a number of ways to ensure that learning in lockdown is as easy and stress-free as possible for yourself and for your child.
Handy Hints and Tips to Help Your Dyslexic Child While Learning in Lockdown
Routine is Important
Routine is important, especially for students with a learning difference. A visually appealing timetable will not only create structure, but will ensure that your child fully understands what will be happening each day. That being said, make sure you set some time aside to work on the core subjects each day, but only enough time so that you have your child’s total focus.
Find Your Child’s Current Level
Find out what level your child is currently at, and ensure that the set work challenges them enough, while at the same time- isn’t too difficult. Every child is diverse and a child with dyslexia is often at different levels for each subject. When deciding on what you want to learn together, take into account their interests and strengths. Make sure they have the opportunity to learn about topics that they enjoy as this will help to motivate them.
Figure Out How Your Child Best Learns
Take advantage of being in a position to better understand how your child learns. For example, have you discovered they’re more of a visual learner? Or perhaps auditory learner? Maybe their memory gets them through. Play to their strengths and help teach in a way that they’ll be able to get the most out of the lesson.
Give praise and applause often. There is nothing wrong with boosting your child’s confidence. It will encourage them to work even harder.
Encourage Various Approaches
Encourage all kinds of approaches to reading/literature tasks. Reading, acting out, drawing, listening to audio books; all of these will be beneficial. The multi-sensory approach to learning greatly benefits dyslexic children. For example, if your child is reading a book, try and introduce the audiobook for them to read along with. This will help with understanding, absorbing, and retaining the information/story.
Research New Ideas
If you’re stuck for ideas, use the internet! There is a wealth of information out there just waiting to be found and utilized. There are also free educational games sites, free resources, and a wealth of free features embedded in tablets, phones and computers. Some of the most useful for dyslexic students learning in lockdown are text to speech features (those with read out written words on the device) and speech to text (your child dictates their work to a device which will turn the speech into a typed document). There are also advanced spelling and grammar checkers available. Touch typing programs are also a must for dyslexic learners. Lockdown is the ideal time to start one of the many touch typing
Work at Your Child’s Pace
Work at your child’s own pace. Enjoy the slower pace for a while. School can often feel isolating and stressful for a child with dyslexia – especially as they get older. Working from home in a more relaxed, slower-paced environment could be highly beneficial.
Fresh Air is Key
Try and ensure you get time outdoors every day to clear the mind and use up that excess energy. Remote learning often results in children becoming over stimulated, which in turn can make them become overwhelmed with everything they have to do. Also, be sure to include non-curricular activities and life skills such as gardening, cooking and crafts.
Set Your Own Patterns
If you have attempted a full school day at home, you will quickly see that it’s neither the best nor the most productive idea. Learning one on one is far more intense than a normal school day. Add to this the fact that children with dyslexia tire faster because they have to work so much harder and you’ve ended up with an exhausted unhappy child. It’s far better to teach in shorter bursts and achieve realistic targets. Don’t feel pressured into trying to match the school day.
Set Realistic Goals
For many children with dyslexia, school is a daily reminder for everything they struggle with. As they have been taken out of this environment temporarily, they could find the confidence they need to move forward. Use this time to help them achieve realistic goals to boost their confidence.
While you are at home, use the time to focus on what your child may struggle with academically. The lack of confidence associated with dyslexia and classroom learning often results in dyslexic children struggling silently. They are often put off asking questions for fear of looking “stupid.”
At home, these fears are alleviated. There’s also more time to spend discover new passions such as dancing, art, craft, cooking, animation etc. Learning in lockdown is the perfect chance for your child to explore those skills they didn’t know they had. This is so important when people aren’t thriving academically – it proves that everyone is different and that being different isn’t wrong!
- You are not failing your child if you’re not providing a full day’s schoolwork.
- You are not failing your child if you support their reading with audiobooks.
- You are not failing your child if you encourage them to explore new passions.
Lockdown is hard enough without unrealistic expectations placed on yourself. Just do what you can, reach out when you need help and use whatever resources help.
Child Mind Institute recommends these resources:
- The Wilson Method
- The Orton-Gillingham Approach
- Preventing Academic Failure (PAF)
- The Lindamood-Bell Program