- Know your child
This may sound obvious, but try to look at your child through objective lenses. Use the British Dyslexia Association list to see which areas your child is showing weaknesses in.
Do not forget to emphasise their strengths to the child themselves, teachers and if ever they should hear you talking to your friends on the phone etc.
- How you view your child
Try to keep everything in perspective, see the child as a whole, with all the wonderful qualities they have and that their weaknesses are just a small part (which can be much reduced with the right interventions) Do not define your child by their Specific Learning Difference (note I say difference not difficulty)
- Prepare for the Situation
Many difficulties can be reduced if you ‘prepare the child for the situation and the situation for the child’ this is particularly relevant when your child starts with a new teacher, class or school.
Do not wait for the teacher to come to you with the traits they have noticed, (it can waste half or even a whole term) ask to see them in advance or right at the beginning of term. You do your child no favours if you think by not mentioning their difficulties, they will go away and they can have a ‘fresh start’- it just wastes valuable time.
- Teacher Meetings
- Keep very calm and positive
- Keep your sense of humour
- Be proactive
- Feel you are working with the teacher
- Remember they may not be feeling very confident dealing with difficulties
- Always start with the positives
- Have it written down, clear bullet points and headings are best, what difficulties your child has in the classroom.
Eg. Tom has difficulty when:
* copying off the board
* reading out loud
- Have another list saying ‘Tom works well when…..
- Ask what you as a parent can do to help the teacher?
- What do they expect at home?
- Can there be a time limit on homework with you signing off each section?
- Set up a regular way to communicate
- Is there a homework book or is it online?
- Set up a date to review, every half term at the minimum
- Take notes, because if you are flustered, or dyslexic yourself, you might forget some key points.
- The Positive Parent
Without fail, be that positive parent, write positive notes/email to the teacher about something your child has enjoyed: a particular event, sports day, a class trip, an assembly etc. Teachers are human and often feel defensive, so a bit of praise goes a long way!
- When to go in to Battle!
There are four elements to this_
- Be the positive parent, as above. It has more power when you do go in.
- ‘Events’ happen in any school. If you go in to ‘battle’ for every event it is a bit like ‘crying wolf’, after a bit they ignore you and just feel you are a complaining parent.
- The trick is to discuss each event with your child, which can be done from reception on. After you have listened carefully, you can discuss with your child what ‘level’ of seriousness it is. I used a simple scale of 1-10! Anything under 8, we would not mention it but see if the child could work it out, though often just by listening it seemed to take a lot of the heat out of the situation. Also, the fact that the child was grading the problem makes them see the bigger picture.
- It’s an 8/9/10! I would go and see the relevant staff (eg, the bullying IT teacher, I mentioned before) and see if I could sort it out. You only use the head judiciously; for the most strongly-held views and situations.