This year my dyslexic son started high school. Worried about how he would cope with this new school environment, given that organisation is not his strong point, we ensured he went to as many transition events as possible before starting. In November last year, he went to a taster day at the school, so he would become familiar with the building layout, staff and pupils. He enjoyed the day and made some friends which helped him when thinking about changing schools.
Towards the end of primary seven, he did two full transition days, where pupils were given timetables and spent time in each subject classroom. I discovered that there was a holiday club at the school over the summer which used the school’s sporting facilities, so my son did a week of activities to further help him get used to being in the school environment. He enjoyed this, and I feel it did help him, if nothing else he knew how to get to the PE department! His main concern seemed to be that he would get lost and be late for class. I looked up Dyslexia Scotland’s advice for students moving to high school. https://unwrapped.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/useful-files/transition_from_primary_to_secondary.pdf
When he started school, I made several copies of his timetable, as he is very forgetful and often loses things. I also made some backup copies. I then typed out his timetable in a word document with the font Open dyslexic, using one page for each day. The font is free and can be downloaded from https://www.opendyslexic.org/. I stuck these sheets to his wall to help him become familiar with what subject he had each day. I ordered coloured rolls of plain paper and covered his text books and jotters with one colour for each subject. I also bought coloured A4 files to match. I made up a key with the subjects and their corresponding colours and stuck that up next to his timetables. I had to check each day with him that he had what he needed for each subject against a list supplied by the school.
Initially, it was a lot of work helping my son become organised for school. However, three months in he knows his timetable, although he always looks at it to double-check. He still has trouble recording his homework accurately in his diary, but the school are involved in helping him, with teachers checking his diary. I get him to pack his bag for school at night-time, so that he isn’t panicking in the morning or forgetting things. I try not to do everything for my son, but early on I did have to help him sort his work into the correct files and folders and still do, although he is now better at this himself. The colour coding has helped him tremendously and he can see at a glance which books are in his bag. I would recommend giving yourself time to help your child make these adjustments.
Lorna Murray, guest blogger