Dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by difficulties in reading, spelling, and writing, can present unique challenges for both children and their parents.
Why does this matter?
As a dad, it's crucial to know how to support and help your child with dyslexia succeed in school and life. Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 children, and many may go undiagnosed. This article is a guide that combines professional articles and expert advice to assist dads in parenting a child with dyslexia.
1. Educate Yourself
To help your child with dyslexia, it's important to educate yourself about the condition. Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can make reading, writing, and spelling challenging. It's crucial to understand that dyslexia doesn't affect intelligence, but it is a lifelong condition that can bring daily hurdles. According to a study in the Journal of Learning Disabilities (Snowling, 2021), around 10% of people in the UK are affected by dyslexia, making it one of the most prevalent learning disabilities.
Common symptoms of dyslexia:
Reading and writing slowly
Confusing letters that look very similar and writing the wrong one, such as “b” for “d”
Confusing the order of letters
Understanding information when delivered vocally but struggling to write it down
Difficulty with following directions
Difficulty with planning and organization
Being informed about the nature of dyslexia will help you understand your child's challenges and figure out the best way to properly support them.
2. Work with Experts
Working with experts who specialize in dyslexia is highly important for effectively managing your child's condition. Seek guidance from educational psychologists, special education teachers, and speech therapists who have experience helping children with dyslexia. In the UK, you can reach out to the school and ask to speak with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). In the US and Canada, the school psychologist or administration is the best way to seek support. Research, like the study by Shaywitz et al. (2020), shows that supporting a child with dyslexia requires teamwork between the school and parents.
What kinds of tech can help my child?
Many schools can provide additional help for your child with dyslexia, such as personalized teaching, phonics lessons, and technology with speech-recognition software. AI tools like Bing can assist with writing assignments as well. It's important to regularly communicate and collaborate with professionals to stay updated on the latest research and interventions that can benefit your child.
3. Create a Supportive and Loving Home Environment
Creating a supportive home environment is really important for kids with special learning needs. It means making them feel confident and motivated. You can help them with reading by giving them books, audiobooks, or online resources that are made for dyslexic readers and work with different learning styles.
Reading aloud to your child is a great way to boost their vocabulary and listening skills, even outside of school. Letting them read a few pages on their own helps them become more independent and reading the same book over and over improves their familiarity with the words. Remember, practice makes perfect! It might take more time for kids with dyslexia, but many of them can become great at reading and writing, even if they have learning difficulties!
4. Boosting your Child's Confidence
Children with dyslexia might feel frustrated, have low self-esteem, and worry because of their struggles at school and how others may see them.
As parents, it's crucial to help your child feel good about themselves. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) suggests praising and celebrating your child's accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are. You can give verbal compliments, rewards, or even special treats like extra playtime or a fun outing. It's also helpful to create a strong support network with family, friends, and dyslexia support groups, so your child feels connected and encouraged.
5. Advocate for Your Child
As a father, advocating for your child's educational needs is extremely important. This will vary by country and possibly their school.
In the US, there is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to make sure your child receives appropriate accommodations and support within the educational system. Maintaining open lines of communication with your child's teachers and school administrators is essential. Work together to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan that outlines specific accommodations and modifications to meet your child's learning needs.
In the UK, under the Children and Families Act 2014, parents can rely on the Education, Health, and Care (EHC) Plan to support their child with dyslexia in school. The plan outlines accommodations and support services to help your child succeed. The SEND Code of Practice also provides guidance on inclusive education. These resources ensure that children with dyslexia receive the necessary support in the UK's educational system.
In Canada, parents can turn to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to create a support system and ensure accommodations for their child in school. Furthermore, Canadian laws safeguard the rights of students with dyslexia, ensuring their access to suitable educational resources and accommodations. Each province and territory has its own Education Act, which outlines the rights, responsibilities, and requirements related to education within each province. Be sure to search for the one in your area (ex: The Education Act, Alberta).
Find a support network
Help your child to become aware of other friends, and community members that have dyslexia. Remind your child that there are many successful celebrities (i.e. Jennifer Aniston, Keanu Reeves, and Tom Cruise), entrepreneurs (i.e. Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Steven Spielberg), and academics (i.e. Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie, and Pierre Curie) that have dyslexia so that the sky is still the limit. Take learning one step at a time.
Being a dad to a child with dyslexia can be challenging, but with knowledge, help from professionals, and a supportive home environment, you can make a big difference in your child's life. By understanding dyslexia, creating emotional well-being, and advocating for your child's educational rights, you can help them navigate their educational journey with confidence and achieve their full potential.
If you suspect your child has dyslexia, the first step is to discuss your concerns with their teacher or the school's special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). Remember, each child with dyslexia is unique, so tailor your support and interventions to their specific needs. With your help, patience, and dedication, your child can thrive academically and emotionally despite the challenges caused by dyslexia.
List of Dyslexic Achievers | Dyslexia the Gift. (2016, March 29). Dyslexia the Gift | Davis Dyslexia Association International. https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/dyslexic-achievers/all-achievers/
Snowling, M. J. (2021). Dyslexia: A framework for understanding developmental language disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 54(2), 100-109.
Shaywitz, S. E., et al. (2020). Achievement gaps: How black and white students in public schools perform in mathematics and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 36(2), 105-137.
International Dyslexia Association (IDA): https://dyslexiaida.org/
NHS Choices. (2023). Overview - Dyslexia. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/#:~:text=Dyslexia%20is%20a%20common%20learning,%2C%20intelligence%20isn't%20affected.