As the school bells ring, signifying the end of summer vacation and the start of another school year, some children are eager to get back to their friends and ready to tackle new learning challenges in their new grade level.
Seldom does the dyslexic child welcome the start of the school year, however. Most dread it acutely, because attending traditional schools and performing simple, everyday schoolwork like reading aloud in front of the class is their worst nightmare (along with being an outdated teaching tactic). The same goes for taking tests and completing writing assignments. Their learning disability becomes obvious in school, to the teachers, certainly, but even worse -- to their peers.
A child's education is far more than tests, tests, tests.
Below are five ways that traditional schools fail to meet the dyslexic child's learning needs, causing him or her to fall farther behind and suffer the social ostracism that comes when their dyslexia is revealed.
- When a child is diagnosed as dyslexic, the school is required to appropriately accommodate their needs with additional supportive educational tools and resources at the school's expense. Many schools delay the dyslexia diagnosis to keep from having to provide these mandated accommodations.
- School administrators can perform an amazing verbal ballet to keep from ever using the word "dyslexic." They can say things like a child's spelling is impacted from his or her weak visual memory, which perfectly describes what a dyslexic child experiences without ever using the "D" word that would open the door to supportive services.
- Teachers and administrators can insist on mainstreaming your child all day in their general education classroom instead of giving them periods of small-group or one-on-one attention that would be a more nurturing and appropriate learning environment.
- Schools can set dyslexic children up to fail because their traditional teaching and testing methods do not mesh well with the dyslexic child's learning skill set.
- Children with severe dyslexia can find themselves the butt of cruel classroom and playground pranks and taunts because their dyslexia is a barrier to literacy. As a result, ill-informed classmates can incorrectly assume a dyslexic child is mentally challenged and an easy target for bullies.
When a child fails to learn to read at his or her grade level, their grades usually plummet in all subjects because reading is the foundation of all learning. This unnecessarily frustrates school age children, who get "turned-off" from learning and may begin to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to get through each school day.
Parents with dyslexic sons and daughters can do better by their children by investigating alternative learning environments and educational programs that can be tailored to fit a style of learning their child can embrace. With online learning, children can be free to express their creative sides without worrying about fitting in with the crowd. They can learn at their own pace utilizing proven models that work well with many who struggle with dyslexia. Many children thrive academically when the societal pressure is taken off of them to succeed in an environment where they will always be the square peg trying desperately to fit itself into that impossibly round hole. When censure and frustration are replaced with nurturing accommodations in an environment that celebrates each child's unique learning needs, it's common to see children come out of their shells and succeed where before failure had been imminent.
Let's move forward together to build a remarkable future for our children, one where dyslexic students thrive and don't suffer.