Support for the Struggling Reader

I recently read a post from a social media group that I follow asking what parents find especially frustrating about school for their dyslexic child. I was disheartened to read that so many parents feel that the schools and/or teachers are not doing enough to help their child. Many felt that the teacher doesn’t accommodate or care to learn more to help their child.

I was hit with many emotions while reading this! Among them were:

  • Sadness because people’s perceptions are their reality. Whether or not the schools and teachers are or are not doing their best, if it is perceived they aren’t doing enough… well, they aren’t!
  • Frustration because this demonstrates to me that there is still not enough information readily accessible about helping students who struggle with reading to learn how to read… not enough information not only for teachers, but for parents as well.

Do Teachers Care? Let’s Explore This…

Teachers today may graduate with their B.Ed. having a lot of literacy courses under their belt, only a few, or none at all. Of those literacy classes they have taken, some may have covered additional information regarding what to do if the traditional approaches to reading are not working and other classes will have barely mentioned this.

Furthermore, only some of the universities require an up and coming teacher to take a class about how to accommodate or adapt for students that need it. Let’s be honest: ALL students could use some type of accommodation at some point in school to help them learn optimally for their learning style or needs.

I like to believe that all teachers care. I’m sure there are 1 or 2 teachers out there that could prove me wrong, but generally all teachers care. However, not all teachers will gain the knowledge as to how they can best support your child.

It is true for most children that they will have one teacher teach them for just 10 months before moving on to another teacher. Some of these teachers will really connect with your child and, unfortunately, others won’t.

Parents as Advocates

Parents will ALWAYS be present in their child’s life! This is WHY it is SO VERY IMPORTANT that parents have easy access to learning the strategies that will best work for their children when it comes to helping them learn to read, write or do math.

parents as advocates for their children

Parents are their child’s greatest advocate! And, trust me, an unfortunate truth is that parents may also need to guide and teach their child’s teachers as well.

We’ve all heard the expression, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease!” This may look like a brief meeting at the beginning of the year going over the strategies you know that work for your child. If doing this, you could also invite the child’s teachers to share strategies that they’re using that are working. This way, the list of what works will continue to expand.

What if I Don’t Know What Works?

What are some strategies that work? They definitely will not be the same for every child. First and foremost, it is important to determine the root of the reading struggle. Is it a processing difficulty? Is your child becoming disoriented or experiencing distortions when reading? Is it a visual tracking weakness? Once the root is determined, we can then look at how to help your particular child. 

Teachers know differentiated instruction is necessary and that all children learn differently… YET, only one or two approaches to teaching reading tend to be focused on in a classroom at any given time. This approach is adequate for most students, but not all.

It is expected that children will move on from learning to read to reading to learn around grade 3. Those who struggle with reading beyond grade 3 are more likely to have an even harder time in school unless proper interventions that match their needs are in place. I believe it is time to change this!

Don’t get me wrong… I am DEFINITELY NOT blaming the teacher here! Perhaps teachers honestly don’t know how to best support your child OR there simply isn’t the support needed within the school itself for both the teacher and your child. This doesn’t mean teachers don’t care.

Each teacher in your child’s life will be juggling life and work. Some of them will be passionate about reading, some about art, etc. It is impossible to be passionate about every single area needed to best support each and every child in their classrooms at once. There aren’t enough hours in the day for this plus many of them have their own children to tend to once they get home.

However, YOU will ALWAYS be passionate about your child’s needs! The more you learn, the more you can help your child, your child’s teachers, etc.

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic and experience with it. Feel free to share in the comments.

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