New uniform, shoes and haircuts, new pencil cases and backpacks – it’s back to school time! Unfortunately, for children with dyslexia the return to school after the long, unstructured days of the summer can be traumatic.
Imagine how it feels for your dyslexic child – thrust into an environment where they are reminded they are different for up to eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s a fact that dyslexia can be mentally and physically exhausting. No wonder your child comes home tired and stressed in those first few weeks.
For children with dyslexia, preparation (or lack of preparation!) before the new school year begins can make or break the entire year. But there are things you can do, as a parent, to ease your dyslexic child back into school.
1 Talk to your child’s teacher
You are a team – so talk to your child’s new teacher! He or she will want to know what your child likes or dislikes. And what works best for your child. At the beginning of the second week of term (not the first week, he or she won’t appreciate it!) make an appointment with your child’s teacher. It shows that you respect their professionalism and their time – and that you yourself are committed to supporting your child. Try to avoid using the meeting as a moaning session about what went wrong last year! Instead, try to look forward and express your own worries and concerns and that of your child in a positive way.
2 Open the lines of communication
Find out how best to communicate with your child’s teacher – and the SENCo. Ask about their preference for discussing your child’s needs. Does he or she prefer an email or a phone call? Maybe they have time at the end of the school day for you to drop in occasionally? Don’t let your worries fester! Keep in touch so that any concerns can be nipped in the bud.
3 Bring in any assessments, reports or other information about your child
Make sure that your child’s school has as much up-to-date information about your child as possible. Does she have a recent assessment report or any results from a dyslexia screener? Does she have an IEP or an EHC plan? Make sure your child’s teacher and SENCo have copies of any documentation – it’s a good idea to actually put the reports into his or her hands so that you are sure they have reached the right person! If your child is starting their secondary education or they are going into Year 9 in September, now is the time to get an up-to-date assessment report – see my webpage about dyslexia assessment for more info. Keep everyone in the loop regarding updates or testing needs, as well as your concerns.
4 Enjoy some back to school shopping
Get your child super organised – and have fun – with a back to school shopping expedition. Pens (erasable!), pencils, rubbers, gluesticks and backpacks needn’t cost the earth but might keep your child organised (for the first half term at least!) Wilco have some fabo stuff at the moment – but make it your child’s choice within the bounds of your budget!
5 Talk to your child
What you can do to have a good school year? What can your child do to help herself at school? Draw up a plan! Perhaps she needs to tackle that homework as soon as she comes in from school. It might be that she needs to put her hand up more if she doesn’t understand something the first time. Chat to your child about how you can make school better. Remind your child that her dyslexia is just a tiny part of her – it’s not all of her! And that how she does in school is a small part of who she is and that you love her no matter what.
Finally, remind your child that school can be fun! And remember that dyslexia can be mentally and physically exhausting for your child. Particularly at the start of the new school year. So check out my blog about Your Child with Dyslexia: The Expert and try to find something that your child is good at and support it – so that she has a way to relax and relieve stress over the first few weeks of the new school year. Good luck!