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Are you thinking about doing our ' How to Learn with Dyslexia' online programme but you're not sure if it is right for you?
This programme is suitable for any dyslexic students who are aged 8 and over. It explores and teaches you how to use proven strategies from cognitive psychology which will:
- make it easier to store learning in several different parts of your brain
- make it easier to retrieve learning for tests and exams ( because you've stored your learning in different parts of your brain)
- teach you how you can ensure something is actually learnt rather then learnt one day and forgotten the next
- teach you how to draw your attention to tricky parts of spellings or materials which you're finding hard to remember
- help you understand yourself better as a learner
- get you the marks you deserve in exams and tests
The programme is over 6 weeks and you get unlimited email support and membership of a dedicated Facebook group whilst you are doing this.
The materials are video based and you can watch these at a time to suit you. I believe the materials will take approximately 1 hour per week to complete. You can dip in and out of them - so if you have 15-20 minutes spare on a couple of days that will be enough.
There are quizzes and discussion points to help you get the most out of the programme and to help you put the strategies into place for yourself straight away.
My child is at primary school - can I do the programme with them?
Yes absolutely. The programme is online - you simply sign up and watch the videos with your child. Alternatively, you can do the programme and then implement the strategies with your child afterwards.
My child has just started secondary school - is the programme appropriate for them?
Yes the programme will help them with all of their exams and tests. It will teach them strategies for learning which will take them right through secondary school, including GCSE, A levels and even through to university.
My child is starting their GCSE's and has never found any ways to effectively revise. Will they learn anything from this programme?
In my experience, schools don't effectively teach their students how to revise - especially if they are dyslexic. All of the students I have taught these techniques to have learnt something that they have been missing from their previous attempts at revising. Many have been fairly clueless about what would work for them before but now have several effective strategies that they can use.
My child is now in Year 12/13 - will this be appropriate for them?
It has been written to help students of all ages. The strategies are not age related but are simply effective, proven strategies for learning which have evidence from research to back up their effectiveness.
The Early Bird Price of £49.99 is available until 20/5/19 after which it will go up to £59.99.
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Is your dyslexic child struggling with their learning? I hear from many parents who tell me that their child can't learn their spellings or that they can't remember anything for their exams.
This article will first look at why your child is struggling and then explore the proven evidence-based strategies that you can use to help your child make their learning effective.
The main culprits which are really unhelpful for academic learning are a weak working memory and a slow processing speed.
Working Memory is the system which places our learning into long term memory and also retrieves it from there. It also enables your brain to juggle several brain processes at once, which you need to be able to do to complete a piece of written work, for example.
The key issue for a dyslexic student is that their working memory is overloaded quicker than an average student. Once they become overloaded, their brain ditches out everything and starts again. When the brain ditches, nothing is placed into long term memory, meaning your child has to 'start again'.
Slow Processing Speed can be likened to a computer's chip which affects the speed at which your computer works. Your brain is very similar - some people's brains process information very quickly whereas others are slower. Not all dyslexic students have a slow processing speed but many do.
The key issue is that it takes your child longer to understand what they need to do and then longer to complete the task.
I am sure you are starting to see that your child is up against it. It is not all bad news, though. There are evidence-based strategies that your child can use from today to improve their learning and move from struggling to successful.
These strategies include:
Spaced learning - this is something I bang on about a lot of the time. It means to space out their learning and not cram anything. You most likely already know that if your child crams their learning the day before a test, for example, a spelling test, they may remember some spellings. But the next day it will all be lost.
If your child uses spaced learning strategies together with repetition then research shows that they would remember the spellings past the spelling test day. This means their learning is more likely to stick.
Elaboration - this method entails asking questions about the subject your child is learning. For example, if your child is learning about Henry VIII then the type of questions you could ask would be: Why did he want a divorce? What was so important about having a son? How did he become head of the Church?.
When your child answers these questions they are describing, explaining and making connections between different ideas. This makes it easier to retrieve the information from long term memory as they are making the memory stronger. This strategy is therefore really important for a dyslexic student to master.
Retrieval - this strategy means that your child has to tell you everything they know about a subject. It works really well with the strategy of elaboration above. From research we know that when we retrieve something from long term memory we are making that memory stronger. You will also find out where the gaps are in your child's knowledge.
Thinking Aloud- this technique is exactly as it sounds - getting your child to tell you what they are thinking and the steps they are going through to get to the answer they are giving you. This one is really useful when you're trying to understand the steps your child is working through. I find that dyslexic students go 'around the houses' to get to their answers rather than taking a more direct route eg adding 4 lots of 20's together rather than doing 4 x 20.
Once you know how they are approaching something, you can help them put a better way into place.
Concrete examples - abstract ideas can be especially difficult for our dyslexics to get their heads around. Using concrete examples can really help them to understand what they are learning. This can range from helping your child understand a specific word to understanding maths equations.
Dual Coding - you might think this one has been written specifically for our dyslexic students! This is not actually the case but it should be used by all teachers as it works well for everyone. This basically means combining text and pictures . Learning is enhanced because verbal and visual information is processed in separate areas by the brain - storing it in two different places. This means you can retrieve it from two different places, giving our dyslexics more chance of retrieving information.
This might all seem really complex and time consuming so to help you I have put this all together in my 6 week programme called ' How to Learn with Dyslexia'. This programme will teach you and your child why they struggle with their learning, then teach you how to use each of the above evidence based strategies which are proven to transform a students learning from struggling to successful.
During the programme you will be using these strategies to help your child with their learning to get it to stick. You will get support through unlimited email and also a dedicated Facebook group.
There is an early bird price available until Sunday 21st October 2018 of £48.00, after which it will increase to £59.99. The programme starts Thursday 1st November, with the programme being delivered on a weekly basis to your email inbox.
If you are ready to transform your child's learning then please go to www.dyslexiadeb.co.uk to book your place.
Limited spaces.
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This is a question that comes up lots of times in my Facebook group and other groups dedicated to helping parents of dyslexic children. It is a difficult question to give one clear cut answer to.
Once your child has been assessed as being dyslexic, usually by an educational psychologist or a specialist teacher, then in the UK, " The SEN Code of Practice which came into effect on 1 September 2014 requires schools to provide appropriate support so that all children have the opportunity to benefit from an inclusive education. A dyslexic child should be offered differentiated support to address the child's particular learning needs." according to the British Dyslexia Association.
The first part of the problem is whether your child has been identified as being dyslexic. In my experience, this is where parents come up against their first obstacle. If a school doesn't believe that your child is, then they will not screen for it and they definitely won't bring in their Educational Psychologist to assess your child.
Some examples of children who schools will arrange for an assessment in my experience are:
- those they are really concerned about - especially if there are behaviour issues involved or the child is a 'looked after' child ( i.e. in foster care).
- those they feel they really don't understand ( often because there are multiple issues such as epilepsy ,dyslexia, autism all thrown in together) and the school really needs extra funding to pay for a Learning Support Assistant.
In a large school, there may be significant numbers of these children. School budgets are really stretched this year ( 2018/19) with many support staff having their hours cut - you can start to see why they may be reluctant to identify more children who need support, if they are just about coping with classroom and work demands.
However, if you feel that your child shows signs of dyslexia, then you mustn't be put off by this. Instead, contact a dyslexia specialist who can chat through your concerns and give you an indication of whether you are right to be thinking that dyslexia is a possibility. I am always happy to listen to a parents concerns and give advice, which I do on a daily basis in my free Facebook group.
You may need to accept that you will have to fund an assessment yourself which I know is not always easy for every family to do as they are expensive. I do find that many schools will accept a dyslexia screening from a specialist teacher, following which they will put a lot of provisions in place in the classroom and for exams such as extra time and readers/scribes. They can often offer small group lessons in the week , if they have the staff available to do this.
A screening is much cheaper than a full assessment from an Educational Psychologist ( I charge £150.00 for this instead of £500-750). I can talk through whether this is appropriate for you - for example,if you intend to obtain an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) then this will not be appropriate. If you are seeking answers and want to know how to help your child or what skills your school needs to help your child develop,then it will be appropriate.
The second part of the problem is that there is a difference in the interpretation of 'appropriate support'. Schools are there to educate all the children, to develop skills so that they can become a useful member of society and pay taxes when they are older ( this is possibly a major simplification!).
They provide a general education and, in fact, go way beyond this for many children. Within a class of 30 children ( or up to 35 in some schools I know in my area), there can be 10 who have some kind of issue which the school has to help with - this can range from serious health issues ( with the children at risk from dying ) to children experiencing unsettled home lives, to others with autism, ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and then our dyslexics.
1 to 1 and small group support is given on a needs basis, with those children who are most behind receiving this extra help. Schools do deal with a range of issues from helping children develop their speech and language to social and emotional skills. Often, our dyslexic children struggle to keep up but they can be working within average ranges. If they struggle more than this, then they may well receive some extra help for a period of time- although not necessarily covering the exact skills that they need to develop.
As parents, I know you all want your children to receive the 1 to 1 and small group help. However, with finite resources ( which lets face it, we all have), this may not be possible for a school to achieve. Even private schools only allocate a certain amount of extra help before a parent has to pay for more.
However, all schools can achieve classroom support which can also go a long way to helping your dyslexic child. This can be really simple things like changing the background colour on the whiteboard; providing rough paper for your child to brainstorm their ideas onto;teaching children how to plan a piece of work properly or even ensuring your child is sat where they can see the board better or away from distracting neighbours. This can form part of 'appropriate support'.
Your child's school should also differentiate their work so that they can achieve success too. Examples of this are asking for fewer spellings to be learnt, giving your child fewer questions to answer or asking for a shorter story. In this way, your child is expected to provide quality answers rather than quantity, which is something a dyslexic child can struggle with.
If your child is struggling with the amount of homework being set, ask how long they should be spending on this and just get your child to work for this amount of time.
A lot of parents do struggle to get their child's school to do classroom support and differentiated learning, let alone receiving small group or individual interventions. If this is the case, then you will need to keep having meetings with the school so that all the free and easy support is put in place ( and kept there). You may have to accept that your child will not receive small group or individual help from the school.
Unfortunately, your child's school is not there to ensure they reach their potential, but that they reach the government's acceptable standards.If this happens, then it will fall to you to provide the specialist help that they need to ensure they reach their potential. This does sound quite tough and I do honestly believe that most teachers are incredibly caring and want children to do their best. But, there are major issues with the speed of the curriculum at the moment and they just can't provide the kind of teaching that they yearn to do and which your child will excel at.
A further side to the problem of support is that many teachers simply don't know how to provide this. I know this is unacceptable. But it is a reality at the moment - dyslexia is still not a compulsory part of a teacher's qualifications. Worse still, your SENCo may not know a lot about this either. There are many schools and teachers who take it upon themselves to find out more and are actively improving their knowledge in this area. It will take action at Government level,though, to make it compulsory for all teachers to know this.
In summary, you can see that what support your child should receive at school is dependent on a number of factors:
1. Whether they have been assessed as dyslexic and by whom
2. How far behind your child is academically, in relation to others in your school
3. Whether a school receives extra funding for a child
4. The teacher's understanding of their dyslexic issues which need development
However, all children should receive appropriate classroom support and differentiated learning.
If you would like to receive more tips and strategies to help your dyslexic child, then pleasejoin my free Facebook group here.
If you would like to discuss dyslexia screenings then please contact me here for a free, no obligation discussion.
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You are concerned that your child isn't progressing at school and you suspect that dyslexia may be the reason why, but the teachers aren't convinced. This post aims to help you look for evidence that your child has dyslexia, from the every earliest clues.
Dyslexia is known to run in families, so if a close relation is dyslexic ( or you suspect that they are) or if an older sibling is dyslexic, then you should be looking out for signs at pre-school. You should also tell your child's school so that they are also on alert for any issues.
You may be really surprised that the earliest clues start with spoken language, because dyslexia is a language problem rather than a reading one.
At pre-school, children begin to play around with rhyme in nursery rhymes and begin to come up with their own rhyming words ( made up words as well as real ones - they are just playing with sound at this point). They can usually identify the letters in their own name too.
If your child can't play around with rhyme at this age, then you should start to have some alarm bells ringing. It is known that a child's knowledge of rhyme is one of the first strategies they use for reading and spelling, so if they don't 'get ' this , it can lead onto difficulties in this area.
Around the ages of 5-7, children begin to understand words as syllables and indeed can start to read simple 1 syllable words such as cat. They will also start to compare words and decide if they rhyme or not; they will also produce a rhyme for simple words such as cat.
Your child should also start to name and know the sounds of letters of the alphabet. They should be able to verbally give you the start sounds of words and identify when words have the same start sound. Finally, they should be able to push sounds that they are given together into words eg c - a - t to make cat.
At the older end of this, your child should also be able to take away a sound from a short word such as take away the 'b' sound from 'bat' to leave you with 'at'.
These may seem fairly unrelated to reading, but we know that children have to be able to break up spoken words into sounds so that they can then understand phonics and decode words ( read words they haven't seen before). All of the children I see and teach have some difficulty in manipulating sounds in spoken words.
I think you can also appreciate that some signs of dyslexia show up before your child gets into reading. It is important to pick up these problems with language early because then your child can receive help with this, meaning that you are not waiting for them to fail first and explore why this is later.
A lot of teachers only start to pick up a problem in the middle of primary school - usually around the age of 8. This is because your child is being expected to start learning from reading - if they are struggling to actually read the words then this becomes very difficult for them to do.
There is the slight anomaly in children who seem to pick up reading, yet they fail the phonics test which is given at Year 1 and then repeated for them in Year 2 . This is because they are the ones who memorise words since they have a strong visual memory. Eventually their reading stalls because they don't have the ability to decode a word, for which you have to be able to pull a word apart. This is also why reading is not a reliable indicator of dyslexia - whilst looking at your child's language skills is.
You should also monitor how well your child recognises common letter patterns - particularly long vowel sound patterns. Dyslexics find it difficult to learn these - particularly at the pace that the school phonic lessons progress through these. This is a slightly later clue, but your child should be making progress with these between the ages of about 6-8.
If you are looking for evidence of dyslexia, then your earliest clues start with spoken language, particularly the ability to play around with and make rhyme; being able to pull words apart into their sounds and then being able to push sounds together to make a word. A slightly later clue, but still during middle primary school is how well they are picking up phonic letter patterns. Most children will master these by the age of 8. If you suspect that your child has dyslexia - don't leave it until your child fails to read - be proactive in seeking help when the earliest clues surface.
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One of the key problems that your dyslexic child faces is not being able to remember their learning. Often, it seems that they forget more than they learn and as a parent this is a worrying aspect of dyslexia. However, there is an effective way for your child to remember which this post looks at.
It was way back in 1885 that Ebbinghaus found that we start forgetting what we have learnt as soon as the lesson finishes. This is true for all students - not just those with dyslexia. We also know that if you space out the students learning ie you revisit ideas and concepts over a period of time, then you minimise the amount of forgetting that a student does.
What does this mean?
This means that for your dyslexic child to remember what they have learnt, they have to revisit what they are learning over a wide period of time.
If they are learning a particular spelling pattern ( perhaps how silent 'e' changes the vowel sound from short to long), then doing this once or twice will not allow your child to remember it. Learning it on day 1,2 and 3; revisiting it then on day 5, day 7 and then day 14 if the pattern is remembered throughout will help your child store the learning in their long term memory. If they forget part of the way through, then go back to day 1 and repeat. It may mean that learning is fairly slow, but at least it will be learnt rather than forgotten.
Any learning programme should take spaced learning into account. I always do this with my students - revisiting the areas we have covered after allowing periods of time to pass.
Why does my child forget their learning?
As stated above, we already know that everyone forgets what they have been taught as soon as the lesson finishes. Therefore, a dyslexic child is not particularly different to others. Where they do differ, is that other children may only need to revisit the learning a couple of times for it stick, whereas your child will need to repeat the learning in many ways and revisit it over wide periods of time for their learning to be effective.
The key reason for this is that your child will have a weak working memory. Working memory is the way learning is stored in long term memory, so a weakness here means that it is more difficult for your child to get their learning into long term memory.
Is there anything else you can do to help them?
There are a couple more things to consider here. Repeating the learning using multi-sensory methods can help them store their learning in different parts of their brain. Multi-sensory means appealing to the different senses ie visually ( through the eyes),auditory ( through the ears) and through movement. If you are learning a spelling pattern, you can ask your child to draw a mind map of words with the same sound;they can record words into a smart phone and make the words out of plasticine.
In my experience, many dyslexic students have a particular learning strength. It is well worth trying to discover what this is so that you can use this most of the time for the repetitions. If your child does have a learning strength then this can be the fastest way for them to learn. I am rewriting my programme ' Smashing Dyslexia' which helps you and your child identify their learning strengths and gives you strategies which will work for them. If you are interested in this programme , please click here to contact me and register your interest.
In summary, we know that students forget a lot of their learning as soon as the lesson finishes. The way around this is to ensure that the learning is reviewed over a wide period of time. Your dyslexic child will also need to put in many repetitions - preferably using their learning strength but also using multi-sensory methods. I have suggested a way of spacing their learning above to make their learning more effective.
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This is a question that comes up lots of times in my Facebook group and other groups dedicated to helping parents of dyslexic children. It is a difficult question to give one clear cut answer to.
Once your child has been assessed as being dyslexic, usually by an educational psychologist or a specialist teacher, then in the UK, " The SEN Code of Practice which came into effect on 1 September 2014 requires schools to provide appropriate support so that all children have the opportunity to benefit from an inclusive education. A dyslexic child should be offered differentiated support to address the child's particular learning needs." according to the British Dyslexia Association.
The first part of the problem is whether your child has been identified as being dyslexic. In my experience, this is where parents come up against their first obstacle. If a school doesn't believe that your child is, then they will not screen for it.
If you feel that your child shows signs of dyslexia, then you mustn't be put off by this. Instead, contact a dyslexia specialist who can chat through your concerns and give you an indication of whether you are right to be thinking that dyslexia is a possibility. I am always happy to listen to a parents concerns and give advice, which I do on a daily basis in my free Facebook group.
The second part of the problem is that there is a difference in the interpretation of 'appropriate support'. Schools are there to educate all the children, to develop skills so that they can become a useful member of society and pay taxes when they are older ( this is possibly a major simplification!).
They provide a general education and, in fact, go way beyond this for many children. Within a class of 30 children, there can be 10 who have some kind of issue which the school has to help with - this can range from serious health issues ( with the children at risk from dying ) to children experiencing unsettled home lives, to others with autism, ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and then our dyslexics.
1 to 1 and small group support is given on a needs basis, with those children who are most behind receiving this extra help. Schools do deal with a range of issues from helping children develop their speech and language to social and emotional skills. Often, our dyslexic children struggle to keep up but they are working within average ranges. If they struggle more than this, then they may well receive some extra help for a period of time- although not necessarily covering the exact skills that they need to develop.
As parents, I know you all want your children to receive the 1 to 1 and small group help. However, with finite resources ( which lets face it, we all have), this may not be possible for a school to achieve. Even private schools only allocate a certain amount of extra help before a parent has to pay for more.
However, all schools can achieve classroom support which can also go a long way to helping your dyslexic child. This can be really simple things like changing the background colour on the whiteboard; providing rough paper for your child to brainstorm their ideas onto;teaching children how to plan a piece of work properly or even ensuring your child is sat where they can see the board better or away from distracting neighbours. This can form part of 'appropriate support'.
Your child's school should also differentiate their work so that they can achieve success too. Examples of this are asking for fewer spellings to be learnt, giving your child fewer questions to answer or asking for a shorter story. In this way, your child is expected to provide quality answers rather than quantity, which is something a dyslexic child can struggle with.
A lot of parents do struggle to get their child's school to do classroom support and differentiated learning, let alone receiving small group or individual interventions. If this is the case, then you will need to keep having meetings with the school so that all the free and easy support is put in place ( and kept there). You may have to accept that your child will not receive small group or individual help from the school.
Unfortunately, your child's school is not there to ensure they reach their potential, but that they reach the government's acceptable standards.If this happens, then it will fall to you to provide the specialist help that they need to ensure they reach their potential.
A further side to the problem of support is that many teachers simply don't know how to provide this. I know this is unacceptable. But it is a reality at the moment - dyslexia is still not a compulsory part of a teacher's qualifications. Worse still, your SENCo may not know a lot about this either. There are many schools and teachers who take it upon themselves to find out more and are actively improving their knowledge in this area. It will take action at Government level,though, to make it compulsory for all teachers to know this.
In summary, you can see that what support your child should receive at school is dependent on a number of factors:
1. Whether they have been assessed as dyslexic and by whom
2. How far behind your child is academically, in relation to others in your school
3. The teacher's understanding of their dyslexic issues which need development
However, all children should receive appropriate classroom support and differentiated learning.
If you would like to receive more tips and strategies to help your dyslexic child, then pleasejoin my free Facebook group here.
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Your dyslexic child really struggles with their writing and you are now really concerned that they won’t be able to gain the grades they need at GCSE ( or A level) to gain their place at college ( or university). You are at the point of employing someone to help your child but should you go with a dyslexia specialist?
1. A dyslexia specialist will have the knowledge and expertise to make a difference
A dyslexia specialist will know and understand why your child is not able to produce a good piece of writing – it extends beyond just being told how to put a sentence or a paragraph together.
Lots of my students talk about having lots of ideas buzzing around their heads and that writing is a really slow process for them. Other students tell me that their minds go blank and they don’t know how to approach the writing. The result in both cases is that they can’t get their ideas down on paper.
Every dyslexic student has a weak working memory, meaning that they need the writing process to be chunked down for them, otherwise their writing will not reflect their ability.
A dyslexia specialist will get to know which type of student your child is and can tailor a writing process to them. In my experience, many dyslexic students don’t realise the stages that others automatically do in their heads – they need these stages to be taught to them explicitly.
A non- specialist teacher will be used to teaching children who don’t need to be taught this explicitly. I have had an example recently of a tutor who became very frustrated with a student simply because they didn’t understand how dyslexia affects a child’s writing. In their opinion, the child just wasn’t trying hard enough or putting in the effort. This is often a misconception that dyslexic students suffer – and I’m sure you don’t want your child to.
2.A dyslexia specialist will give your child praise for the content.
Your child may be very good at coming up with unique ideas, but the writing is littered with spelling mistakes and lacks punctuation. As a specialist, the first thing I look for is content and tell a child why it is really good. This is great for confidence building and helps them to feel good about writing.
As part of the writing process, I then teach your child to edit their own work. First, I would ask them to see if they can identify 2-3 spelling mistakes and then we work together to put them right. I would not identify every spelling mistake ( unless there are only a few) whereas your non - specialist may feel the need to do this – which will affect your child’s self -confidence over time.
I would then ask your child to proof read for punctuation. I never get cross that ‘they should know this by now’ because I know that they find it difficult to do because of their poor working memory. However, after they have been taught a good writing process which allows them to edit their work, in my experience they can put in the punctuation, especially the full stops. The reason why they can do it after writing is because they are now only thinking about punctuation and not all the other processes which go into writing ( which words to use, how to write them, grammar….)
3. A dyslexia specialist can help your child understand how they learn.
Dyslexic students are very bright ( as you are completely aware) and they do have particular learning strengths. These learning strengths can be put to good use with learning spellings, for example. A specialist will help your child uncover what these might be which will ensure your child is more successful with all of their learning including their writing and revision skills.
To recap, a dyslexia specialist will be able to help your child improve their writing because they have the knowledge and experience of how to overcome the specific difficulties that is preventing your child from producing a good piece of writing; they will be able to teach your child an effective writing process and finally they can help your child understand how they can learn their spellings.
I am launching a 6-week online programme which will teach your child my writing process and help them overcome the difficulties they are facing. I have aimed this initially at students who are getting ready for their GCSE exams, so that they can obtain the best grades possible. You can work through the programme with your child or book 1 to 1 sessions with Debbie if you would like her support.
For more information or to book a place, please click here.
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You have noticed that
your dyslexic child can talk about subjects really well - they are articulate and demonstrate a lot of knowledge. However, when it comes to writing you are left wondering if the same person has written it. There may be a few lines, lots of spelling mistakes, no punctuation, perhaps some very long sentences which don't make sense and it absolutely doesn't reflect your child's level of knowledge
. Dyslexia does affect writing – but there are ways around it.
The key culprit is working memory. Working memory is our ability to juggle information in our brain for a short period of time, whilst we are manipulating it. All dyslexic children have a weakness with their working memory which means that they find it difficult to juggle lots of different brain processes at the same time. When they are writing, they are having to do just this.
This leads to all sorts of writing issues. You will find that your child suddenly can’t spell words which you know they know how to do when you ask them to spell them individually, which can be really frustrating. Their written work will be disorganised, and the ideas won’t flow. There may be very little written down and little detail added in. You may have noticed that they can write more and use better vocabulary if you write for them. This is because you have taken some of the load away from their working memory and they can show their ability better. However, your child needs to learn how to write well independently.
The answer to this is for your child to learn a good writing process which works for them and breaks the process down into manageable chunks. This is a really great thing to do for several reasons:
1.If your dyslexic child learns a writing process, it means that they will know how to approach any piece of writing they do.
2.When it is broken down into manageable chunks, the load on your child’s working memory is lessened, which in turn means that they can produce a piece of writing which reflects their ability.
I teach a 6- stage writing process to all my dyslexic students which gives them a system to stick to which works for all students – regardless of age and stage of education. A key part of the process, which all dyslexics struggle with, is how to get from brainstorming an idea to organising those ideas into a coherent structure. It also focuses on adding detail into paragraphs and then putting an editing and proof reading stage firmly and effectively in place.
Your child may really struggle with the brainstorming aspect too - their mind may go pretty blank. so they will need to be taught techniques to help overcome this.
I am launching a 6-week online programme which will teach your child my writing process and help them overcome the difficulties they are facing. I have aimed this initially at students who are getting ready for their GCSE exams, so that they can obtain the best grades possible. Spaces are limited because your child will be working with me on a one to one basis over the 6 weeks, as well as receiving unlimited email support.
If you have any questions, then please contact me here
I
f you would like free tips and advice to help your dyslexic child then please come and join me in my Facebook group here.
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We are coming into exam season now and your attention is turning to your child and how they need to prepare for them. The key issues are that they don't know how to revise and think that nothing works for them. This post looks at the best ways for your dyslexic child to revise.
What does revision mean?
Revision is basically just going back over what you have learnt already. To be able to revise effectively, your child needs to have their school books to hand so that they can go over the work that they have done.
I know a lot of dyslexic children don't have all the information in their books; if this is the case for your child, then you need to contact the teachers and ask for the gaps to be filled in. They should be able to provide handouts on the areas your child needs to revise for that subject.
Other ways to obtain the information is from revision books on that subject - so don't
panic if your child's books are incomplete but do get started on this straight away.
How Should My Child Revise?
A lot of parents say that their child doesn't know how to revise. There is no one 'right way' to revise and getting this part right has a lot to do with getting to know your child and how they learn.
Sit down with your child and think about the times when they have learnt something. For example, I was talking to a parent this week whose child learnt their times tables by verbally repeating them. I would therefore say that this child learns well by verbally repeating information over and over - so this would make a great revision technique for them., even at GCSE and A level.
I helped a student to convert all the information in his books into mind maps for his GCSE exams, complete with pictures and colour coding to link all the relevant information together. Perhaps your child learns best by watching videos or by moving around whilst they repeat the facts.
If you are having trouble with working this out, then my programme ' Smashing Dyslexia' will help you and your child understand how they learn.You can show your interest in this here.
"Use What Works" and How to Tell What Works
This is one of my favourite phrases at the moment, but it is never more true than here. To discover whether your child's revision technique is working, get them to use it to learn something for 20 minutes. In an hours time, test them and see whether they can remember what they were revising. If they can't, this technique is most likely not going to work for them - so you'll have to get them to try another one.
A lot of parents say that their child can't revise or that nothing works for them. I would suggest that what they have been doing so far hasn't worked. Review the techniques they have been using; the time of day they revise; how long do they try and revise for ;how much do they leave themselves to do and how close to exams do they leave it.. Once you have this information, you can start changing what they are doing to make them more successful.
Active Revision
Revision should be active rather than passive - but what does this mean? Passive revision means that your child is just sat down reading or watching something and not doing anything else. In general, this doesn't work!
Active revision, on the other hand, is very effective and works well. To actively revise when your child watches a video, for example, they would write down what it is they need to learn from that video first; whilst watching the video they write down key words to trigger their memory; after watching the video, they summarise the key ideas on a mind map if they like visual diagrams or record them into their phone if they like talking about a subject.
To actively revise when reading, again have an objective in mind ( at the end of this page I need to know the hydrological cycle for example) - then read and make notes ( note making may be recording into their phone; making a mind map or highlighting parts of the page). Then, give them a break and come back and check they can summarise the hydrological cycle by redrawing their mind map.
Spaced Revision
This is my variation of spaced learning and the technique goes like this:
- Your child uses active revision to learn their facts for that evening.
- The next day, see if they can still remember the facts. Even if they can, get them to actively revise again and repeat for the next two days.
- If they can remember their facts, then they now don't have to actively revise those facts.
- After 2 days, check that they can still remember the facts. If they can't, go back to actively revising but you might want to think about how they are revising and change it. If they can, check that they can still remember after 7 days. If they can still remember the facts now, then they are not likely to forget them.
Change Where They Revise
I think we are all conditioned to sit down at a desk and revise in one place - this was definitely the advice for a long time. However, it has been shown that your child can learn by varying up the places they revise in.
So, if your child likes to move around, let them; if they want to go to a coffee shop to revise for a short time, let them. Perhaps the sofa is the perfect place for them, combined with some time at a table. It has also been shown that having classical music playing softly in the background can help with concentration.
In summary,revision is just going back over lessons that you have already done, so that you can show what you know in an exam. There are many different ways to revise but the key for dyslexic students is knowing how they learn best which may require you to run a few experiments to find out. Use what works and ditch what doesn't! Lastly, make revision active and not a passive activity and vary where your child revises if possible.
If you would like to help your child understand their dyslexia and how to make their learning effective, please click here to register interest in my online Smashing Dyslexia programme.
If you would like free tips and advice about how to help your dyslexic child, please join my Free Facebook group here.
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You may suspect that your child has dyslexia or perhaps they have just been assessed as such.
There is one aspect which strikes you as really strange - why can't they remember spellings and facts that they have been given to learn when they can remember exactly what happened at Nanny's birthday party two years ago?
The key reason for this is memory and the fact that dyslexic's have a key weakness in one type of memory - working memory.
What is working memory?
Working memory is our ability to work with information ( definition by Alloway) ie how good our brains are at juggling and manipulating information as well as discriminating what we should be focusing on.
It is nothing to do with short term memory which is our ability to remember information for a short period such as someone’s name at a party – after the party your brain will ‘ditch’ the information. It is also not the same as long term memory which is basically all the knowledge you have learned over the years stored away to be recalled when needed.
Working Memory is the 'go between' to long term memory.
Working memory is linked to long term memory because it is the system that retrieves information from your long term memory and also the system that is used to transfer new information into long term memory .
Learning styles and Working Memory
Working memory is also the area which allows you to adapt your learning style to a task, so that you use the best one for that particular task. For example, we learn by doing when in a cookery class and learn by listening in a language class. A weak working memory will make it harder for you to do this.
Your dyslexic child will have a weakness in their working memory - this is part of the assessment and a weakness has to be found here for your child to be dyslexic.
This working memory weakness leads to these difficulties:
1. Doing things which need lots of brain processes to be juggled at the same time ( reading,spelling and writing)
2. Being able to make learning stick by putting it in long term memory and retrieving learning from long term memory
3. Not being able to adapt their learning style to suit the task they are doing - instead they may have one best way of learning which they try to apply to all tasks for example
What will you see as a result?
- Your child will know how to spell words one day and forget them the next
- They will have difficulty with writing their ideas down on paper, doing mental maths, spelling in longer pieces of writing and even have problems with reading and remembering what it was about
-In exams and tests, your child won't do as well as expected and they become frustrated because they know they put in more effort than everyone else.
- Your child may give up on trying to learn their work because they can't find a way to do so
- In extreme cases, this could lead to behaviour issues at home and school because you have a frustrated child on your hands
What do the teachers say?
If your child has a working memory issue, then you may be told by their teachers that:
- your child understands the work and can tell the teacher all about it verbally, but the piece of writing which is then produced is short ( maybe a few sentences long) and doesn't match up to the child's verbal abilities.
- they know how to spell words when given as a single word spelling but they continuously get it incorrect in their writing.
- your child is not learning their spellings ( when you know that you have both spent every day learning them) because they were all incorrect.
- their exam results were poor and they could do better with more effort.
- your child is lazy and not trying very hard!
If your child's teachers are saying these kind of things then alarm bells should start ringing - they should start ringing for the teachers too but your child is often one of 30 ( or more) children in that class and the teacher has to try and sort out all of them. As a parent, you are only sorting out your child and you also know how much effort your child is putting in at home.
A weak working memory does make learning more difficult for your child, but it doesn't mean that they can't learn. To help make their learning effective:
1.Chunk tasks down into manageable amounts. This includes chunking down the writing process, the word problem solving process, the word which they are trying to spell, the spelling list for that week ( perhaps it is too many for your child, in which case learn 2-3 really well, the times table they are trying to learn ( 2-3 facts at a time) and so on.
2. Repeat and review learning. This is essential if you want to put your learning into long term memory. A good technique to use is spaced learning to ensure your child is retaining the learning - this is where you test their learning on day 1,2 and 3 and if they remember it ( can be spellings, times tables, history facts, scientific terms......) then leave asking them for 24 hours; if they still remember at this time, leave for 48 hours and ask again; if they still remember ask again in 7 days. If they still remember, then it is in long term memory.
3. Make learning as active as possible. Your child may have had enough of sitting down and reading over things at school so at home and for revision, the learning needs to be made as active as possible.
This can literally mean moving around ( try jumping on chalked letters outside for spelling or assigning a fact to each piece of furniture in the house and then walk around to recall them).
Active reading means having a set of questions about the text around what you need to know from it - highlighting up key points and then testing yourself to see if you can remember what the text is about.
4. Understand how your child learns. Most children will use a combination of learning through seeing ( visual), by hearing ( auditory) and by doing ( kinaesthetic) and will switch how they learn according to the task. Your child will find this difficult, and in my experience they will have a stronger way of learning. Your job is to discover whether that is visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. Once you know this, you can make sure that, at home, your child learns in the way which is best for them.
In summary, your dyslexic child will have a weak working memory - other memories are unaffected ( as far as we are aware at the moment). This affects taking in and retrieving learning; it affects how much your brain can do at once and it affects how much you can adapt your learning style to the task.
This means that learning is made effective by chunking down into manageable parts ( including chunking down processes) ;that learning needs to be repeated often and reviewed regularly; that learning needs to be made as active as possible and finally, that understanding how your child learns is key.
Our Smashing Dyslexia Programme is designed to help you and your child identify their learning strengths, giving you easy strategies to use at home to help them learn more easily. You can find out more about this here.
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