Watch enough local or national news programs, and you’ll likely catch at least one story about the less-than-stellar state-of-affairs of our current education system. Though there are many deficiencies worth noting, one area that has concerned parents for some time has been the proper development & implementation of a solid dyslexia curriculum.
For families with a dyslexic student, making sure their child is able to get the help they need to succeed isn’t easy, which can be infuriating. What makes this deficiency even more egregious is that this lack of a proper curriculum addressing the need of a dyslexic population affects ALL students. While figures will vary a bit, recent research indicates that almost 1 in 5 people is affected by dyslexia. That’s not student population either — that’s general population! This means that if there is a lack of proper curriculum developed to help dyslexic individuals in school, there’s likely a lack of dyslexic resources available to dyslexic individuals beyond school.
Ultimately, this means that far too many people are falling through the cracks, being lumped in as being bad readers, late bloomers, or just not great students. As it turns out, the problem is with the curriculum. So, with all that said, one has to ask the basic question — what would acceptable dyslexic curriculum actually look like? It’s a fair question, but one that: 1) wasn’t asked for a very long time; and 2) has since been lumped in under other less-than-appealing headings.
High on the not-so-great words used in education is the term “disability”. Aside from the issues of stigma that the word carries, the term can often allow issues like dyslexia to fall under blanket curriculum writing that satisfies legislation requirements but does nothing to actually address the needs of many learning difficulties.
As a parent or guardian of a student with dyslexia, you act as an advocate for your child in every sense of the word. Students spend eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months out of the year at school every year for twelve years (give or take). The ability for them to be successful despite their dyslexia diagnosis rests on your ability to know what is AND isn’t being done at the curriculum level.
Here are five things you want to be sure are included in a dyslexia curriculum:
Determination of Individual Learning – Every classroom operates under the rule that each student is a different kind of learner. No matter the background the student brings to the proverbial table, the teacher’s job is to understand what makes each student learn best. It’s more work on the teacher’s part, but it’s what makes for more successful students in the long run.
Legal Compliance – Since you have a dyslexic child, you no doubt know what a school district should be providing for them per the law. Not only are there plenty of resources that spell out what legislation there is about requirements, but you are in a position where you need to be ready to point out deficiencies in current curriculum.
Assistive Technology – The last year-and-a-half have all taught us the importance of technology in education. Without the use of computers, education in the 2019-2020 school year to the present would be impossible. What’s more, many of the greatest advances in dyslexic educational resources have come about in recent years by way of available technology. Some of the highlights include website decluttering extensions, audiobooks, speech to text, digital annotation, and digital/oral administration of tests.
Does It Work? This is an odd one, but keep in mind that even school districts are inundated with sales pitches from companies looking to peddle their wares about the best ways to address certain teaching techniques for different learners. If your student’s school has resources/materials/curriculum that tends to have this kind of program look & feel to it, don’t dismiss it offhand immediately. Rather, ask for numbers to show that it’s actually effective.
Therapy vs Tutoring – Ask any tutor how a session usually goes with a student. If they’re being honest, most of what they do is help complete homework assignments & give basic input on general ideas. There’s no real breakdown of what issues the student is having & what they need to do to be successful. Choosing to go the route of dyslexic therapy is more about understanding, breaking down, and trying to work through the particular barriers the student is facing.
In the end, if there’s one thing to look for in a dyslexia curriculum, it’s simply this — there isn’t a ‘best’ approach. Every student, even those with dyslexia, is different. You want your student’s teachers to understand them as simply an individual. That’s the biggest first step in finding success.
If you or someone you know could use some advice on understanding dyslexia curriculum in your area, it’s worth touching base with professionals who strive to make sure ALL students are represented in education.
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