The Royal Cheshire County Show has ended for another year. Amongst the competitors in the Show Ring was one of my students, Jack (not his real name). Jack is a farmer’s son. Last week he confidently and competently showed his prize-winning calves at the County Show in the under 16 years old class. Not so long ago, he watched his calves being born (and can show you the video)! And he has helped his father raise them. I know he will be proud to show off his rosettes when he comes for his dyslexia lesson this week.
In the classroom, it’s a different story for Jack. He is averagely intelligent but has very slow processing speed, making his reading slow and laborious and his spelling weak.
Jack is never going to find school easy. But whilst he may struggle academically, he has found something he loves. He has found his “thing”.
Most children with dyslexia are not confident in the classroom. When children reach their teens, especially, they may become overly aware that their academic abilities are poor compared to their friends. This can lead to low self-esteem and a sense of pessimism about school and their future. At worse, the dyslexic child can suffer from depression or behavioural issues.
But this does not have to be the case. I’ve often noticed that a dyslexic child who has an interest, or is good at something, is better equipped to cope with school and has better long term prospects.
Let your child with dyslexia become an expert
Help your child develop an area of expertise. Help them find their “thing”. It could be anything. And it will probably change as your child grows up.
It doesn’t have to be something academic. It doesn’t have to be something that will directly help them in later life. It doesn’t have to be something that will lead to a career. Just something your dyslexic child is interested in or is good at. My own students have a wealth of interests: sailing, reptiles, cricket, piano, swimming, Lego, ballet and Star Wars. Whatever it may be, encourage your child to become an expert.
Why will developing an interest or hobby help your child with dyslexia?
Fitting in to the group or looking good in front of friends is important to a child. Being an expert can provide opportunities for your dyslexic child to shine in front of his or her peers.
Your dyslexic may meet other children who share a common interest, in an environment where their dyslexia is totally irrelevant. Meeting another kid at Games Workshop or the Swimming Club every Saturday morning is one way long-lasting friendships begin.
The knowledge that he or she may not be much good at English Literature but is an expert in sheep husbandry or is an amazing Cheer Leader may make all the difference to your child’s confidence. Being good at something will do wonders for your dyslexic child’s self esteem.