Supporting Learners and Families
Wondering if your child requires additional support can understandably be a worrying and anxious experience for any parent or carer. When a concern is raised by a family, learner or member of staff it is extremely important that this is followed through transparently, sensitively and effectively. Developing supportive relationships between home and school is very important.
Learners with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted, effective support at the right time.
Dyslexia can impact on parents, families and carers who may become distressed when they feel that their child is not receiving the support they need. In both children and adults, when dyslexia is unidentified or unsupported the negative impact can be high. Children and young people often lose motivation and become frustrated through the stress of trying to learn, not understanding what dyslexia is and feeling that they are ‘different’ to others because they find difficulty in doing what to others appear to be simple tasks. It is very important to share with families and the learner that being dyslexic can also bring positive skills. Below are some common strengths which can be experienced by individuals with dyslexia:
- Can be very creative and enjoy practical tasks
- Strong visual thinking skills e.g. seeing and thinking in 3D, visualising a structure from plans
- Good verbal skills and good social interaction
- Good at problem solving, thinking outside the box, seeing the whole picture.
It is essential that information is shared with parents and carers so they can understand the holistic process of identification and support of dyslexia within Curriculum for Excellence. Further information on this is available in the Assessment and Monitoring section of the Toolkit . This includes information on when families choose to have an Independent or Private Assessments for the identification of dyslexia.
Dyslexia Scotland's YouTube Channel has a range of films which are helpful in supporting families, learners and professionals to understand dyslexia and help children with dyslexia at home. Two are featured below - 'Dyslexia is Awesome and Rubbish' and one from the 'At home with Dyslexia Scotland' YouTube playlist.
Supporting Social and Emotional Wellbeing
Dyslexia impacts on parents, families and carers who become distressed that their dependents cannot get the support they need. In both children and adults, when dyslexia is unidentified or unsupported the negative impact can be high – children often lose motivation and become frustrated through the stress of trying to learn, not understanding what dyslexia is and knowing that there are ‘different’ to others because they find difficulty in doing what to others are simple tasks. This can lead to acute behavioural problems both at school and at home including bullying and anti-social behavior, as well as overall severe low self-esteem and frustration for children and adults not reaching their potential.
The impact on adults whose dyslexia is not identified and supported can be under achievement in further education and employment. The negative effects of dyslexia on self-esteem and confidence can lead to high stress levels, damage to personal relationships, day to day difficulties, depression and mental health problems. There is an established link between offenders and dyslexia. It is estimated that over 60% of prisoners have literacy difficulties, mainly dyslexia.
People with dyslexia will benefit from early identification, appropriate intervention and targeted, effective support at the right time.
Supporting children and young people understand themselves as individual and that understand their dyslexia is not a reflection of their cognitive ability. If they are able to develop and maximise their strengths this can help with the areas where they experience difficulties.
Dyslexia Unwrapped is a very helpful website developed by and for dyslexic children and young people.
Effective communication, respect and partnership working are key requirements between schools and families. They are essential in establishing and maintaining positive relationships, supporting appropriate and effective identification, planning and monitoring of literacy difficulties and dyslexia.
The first sign that a child/young person is experiencing difficulties with literacy or showing indications of dyslexia may arise from school staff, parents/carers or the young person. The ongoing process of identifying and supporting the needs of the learners should be clearly and effectively communicated to everyone involved. It is important that:
- Learners, parents, carers feel that they are being listened to and their views are valued.
- Parents and carers are informed of all the support their child receives. This will reduce perceptions that no supports are in place as they are often discreet and the learner may not be fully aware of the additional support they are receiving.
- Parents and carers are provided with information on what assessment and support means within the ‘needs led’ Scottish educational context - the ‘label’ of dyslexia is not in itself required in order for resources or support to be made available for learners. Equally, the label of dyslexia can be very valuable to the learner and their family in terms of the learner’s sense of self and understanding from others.
- Local authority staged levels of intervention are followed and information on the process is made available to the parents and carers.
- Effective consultation takes place with parents and the young person, and if the young person is old enough to understand what is happening, participation in meetings.
Getting it right for every child, often referred to as GIRFEC, is the national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of our children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. The aim is to help them grow up feeling loved, safe and respected to help them realise their full potential. It allows children and young people and their families to work in partnership with school and the services that can help them.
GIRFEC reflects a determination to make sure every young person is safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included. It means that all the agencies involved work together in the child's best interests and share information with others to make sure the child's need are met.
Further Information about Getting it right for every child can be found here.
Good Practice for Parental Engagement
This short film shows the importance of effective communication between parents and schools.
Some schools and local authorities have established parental engagement/working groups to support and improve the development of effective partnership working to:
- Improve the educational experiences, achievements and outcomes for learners with dyslexia
- Share experiences from different perspectives e.g. parents, learners, staff
- Improve school communities’ understanding of dyslexia and inclusive practice.
The Education Endowment Foundation published guidance, based on an overview of existing research, in December 2018 to help schools considering how to support parents in improving children's learning. Click to download 'Working with parents to improve children's learning'.