Our son was diagnosed as dyslexic two years ago, when he was eight. Since then he has been receiving tuition outside school hours, in addition to the support he receives in school. His tutor mentioned that another child she taught had set up a Dyslexic ‘club’ at school; somewhere the emphasis was on socialising and not school work. We thought this was a great idea and would be helpful in boosting our son’s confidence, by showing him that he is not the only one who is dyslexic in the school.
We suggested the group to the school, although at first they were not sure how this would work. Under the supervision of a teacher, it was agreed the club would meet once a week over a lunchtime, as a trial. This started last year and approximately ten children attended the group each week. Feedback from the children told us that they felt relieved to see that they were not the only child struggling with dyslexia in the school. One child’s response when joining the group was “you mean I’m not the only one?”. My son said to me “mum there are some really clever people there too from p7!” The children, with the help of the teacher, got together and produced a PowerPoint presentation of Dyslexia and how it affects them. They then presented this to the parents of the group one evening. They used bullet points and pictures to help them and avoided using lots of writing and long words. This presentation gave the children confidence and a sense of comradery. The club was well attended, however when it was a sunny day the teacher noticed attendance dwindled. Therefore, it was agreed with the input of the children, that it would move to once a week during morning break. They felt that it was good to continue with the club, however didn’t want to miss out on playing with their friends outside during the lunch break.
At the same time, the Headteacher at the school set up a parent’s support group. This was a trial group also, to see if coming together to share ideas and difficulties would benefit those of us supporting a dyslexic child. The group met four times last year. Like the children, it was great to meet other parents who are experiencing difficulties helping their child with school work and life in general with dyslexia. The Headteacher and club teacher were also present to give their input and receive feedback from parents.
In the future, we hope to produce a school leaflet for children and parents, explaining a bit about dyslexia and the help they can receive. We also hope to have guest speakers both at the children’s and adult groups, who can inspire and give strategies and advice to us all on managing life and work with dyslexia.
Both clubs are still in their infancy, however we feel we have taken a step forward in raising awareness in the school community about dyslexia. Most important of all, the children enjoy socialising and realising they are not alone, which is a great confidence boost.
Lorna Murray – guest blogger