How to Handle This School Year Like a Pro [Dyslexic children edition]

Reading is crucial for dyslexic children
The new school year is beginning. And after a covid-impacted year, it's time to go back to normal-ish. Here are a few tips how to prepare for the new school year.

Dyslexic children often need to work twice as hard to get the same results as their peers, which can be discouraging. But with the right tools and a little bit of organization, you can make this school year go much smoother for your kid. Here is how.

Do dyslexic children have more problems starting a new school year?

A study found that dyslexic children have much more difficulty with starting a new school year. Dyslexics are under more pressure and often don’t feel ‘at home’ at school. People don’t like to do what we are not good at, so if school isn’t your thing, you won’t like school. Makes sense, right?

While kids often look forward to starting a new school year and boasting to their friends about a new skateboard they have, dyslexic children might not look so fondly to returning back to school.

Dyslexic children during the pandemic

This year, the return to school will be even more difficult because of the pandemic. The COVID pandemic shut the schools down for the better part of the 2020/21 campaign, which resulted in kids being more used to staying at home.

Kids were stuck at home a lot in 2020/21

We still don’t exactly know what kind of consequences the lockdowns will have, but staying at home proved to be a problem for every kid, let alone a child battling dyslexia and not feeling particularly confident. There is extra pressure because we are not yet entirely sure whether the schools will stay open throughout the school year, although there is evidence we can reopen the schools safely. Closures and restrictions are stressful, so be extra patient with your kid this year.

Tips for handling this school year like a pro

Identify potential problems early

You can start by reading a bit about why and where dyslexic children normally struggle in school. Here are 5 reasons why dyslexic children fail to learn to read. The theory can serve as a basis for your plan.

You can take the research a step further by examining your own experience. People learn best from their own history. So take a look at last year. How did last school year go? What were the main issues? Where did your kid struggle? Where did he excel?

The goal of this look back is to find areas where your kid struggled and eliminate them. Another goal is to find areas where your dyslexic child excelled and boost those.

Set goals

Once you have identified areas where your kid struggled and where he excelled it’s time to set goals. Goals can be based on attendance, improving the grades, or repeat last year’s performance.

Reading is crucial for dyslexic children
Goals can be based on attendance, improving the grades, or repeat last year’s performance.

On average, dyslexic children get demotivated easily, so setting lower goals at the beginning helps kids get started. The small successes then start a snowball effect and result in improved performance.

Keep in mind your kid might be different and might be motivated by high flying goals, so adjust the exercise to your kid. You know them best!

Read with your child

Where dyslexic children struggle most is, of course, reading. Reading is the basis for future learning, so it’s important your kid learns to read. The good news is, that with the right approach and a lot of patience, your kid can become a reading master.

Aside from obvious benefits, a 2009 study also found, that reading reduces stress. And don’t let the fact that your kid “can’t read” be an excuse. Try a support tool, like Kobi, which is an eReader, much like Kindle, but built for dyslexics where you can color problematic letters and adjust the font to suit your kid’s needs.

Kobi – helps your kid read (while you cook)

Kobi helps dyslexic children learn to read
Kobi is like Kindle but made for dyslexics
Link to KOBI on Google Play
Link to KOBI in the Apple App Store

Even reading in very small chunks – starting with a couple of minutes per day – leads to improved results. And small wins, like reading for 3 minutes today, lead to big wins, reading 10 minutes tomorrow.

Track progress

Often, it is very difficult to measure whether your kid is improving or not. This is why we need to track progress. Define performance indicators you want to measure. These will differ depending on your goals.

If your goal is improved attendance, keep score of how often your kid misses a class. If your goal is to build vocabulary, start writing down every word your kid knows, expanding the list every time your kid learns a new word. Another indicator could just be the work your kid put in. So for how long can your kid read today versus a month ago. Or how many reading session has your kid done this week against the previous week.

Tracking progress is crucial for dyslexic children
You can track progress with a simple checklist.

This makes it easy to compare your kid’s current ability (or effort) to the ability in the previous period. Most dyslexic children will welcome that kind of comparison since it motivates them to beat the previous score.

Course correct

So now you have actual data that tells you whether your kid is progressing or not. That means you can follow progress, week to week, month to month, and see where this road is taking your kid.

If you see your kid needs more work in one area, adjust the schedule to include more work in that area. Or vice versa. The point is you can course-correct if necessary, leading your kid from a struggling reader to a reading master.