As parents and teachers, we must be aware of the symptoms of dyslexia and the common myths surrounding it. It is our duty not to bring these children down by forcing them to follow and succeed in the streamline schooling system that fails provide and nourish different minds. The sad truth is that anyone who dares to be different, by choice or by nature are usually falsely labeled, made to feel lonely and helpless.
With so much advancement taken place, we should be working towards nourishing the minds of our youth of tomorrow depending on their personal strengths, talents, needs and dreams instead of conditioning them all to believe they must succeed in the “one size fits all” model of education. We cannot expect these children to suffer and change for a system that is not equipped to cater to the unique potential every child has. Rather, we must modify the system by educating ourselves, teachers, parents and all children, to include those that feel helpless in this system that we call “mainstream schooling.”
A little insight into how you can help your child:
1. It seems pretty obvious, but understanding your child’s temperament and personality is crucial. When you are in tune with your children’s characteristics that make them unique, you will have a better understanding of when they need additional support, and when and where they will thrive.
Once you know the basics of what makes your child tick, many important areas become much easier to navigate, such as pinpointing the best environment for homework or what keeps them motivated. Every parent wants to see their child succeed. Therefore, I understand that it is hard not to jump in and solve problems for them by lecture or criticism. However, it is more important to build their self-esteem and confidence first rather than putting more pressure on them. Your words matter most, so use them wisely.
2. That brings me to my next point. If your child has a problem, don’t be afraid to identify with it. Realising that your child has different abilities or difficulties will mean you have won half the battle.
Intervention is critical. Getting your child help from an earlier age will mean they will struggle less as they grow up. I understand many parents are scared to acknowledge the problem to protect their child from the labels society puts on them. However, it is worse if the child ends up living their entire life thinking they are any less abled than others. They deserve to know the real reason behind their struggles and that they are just differently able and very much capable of reaching great heights.
Speaking from personal experience, I spent half of my life believing the labels society put on me. I was convinced that I am stupid and not as bright as other students. However, upon learning that I was not dumb or lazy but rather, a dyslexic was a liberating experience. Things started to make sense, and the difficulties I faced did not make me feel less of myself but rather proud of all that I have achieved
3. Once you have identified the problem, don’t be afraid to get support. Help your child cope by listening to what they have to say. That means not just listening to their words but also watching their behavior. As we all know, actions speak louder than words.
Being heard is powerfully therapeutic, and it allows us to think things through and reach a solution. Just like the rest of us, kids want and need to be heard and feel understood.
4. You must correct with respect and not criticism. It is true that children need to be corrected and guided. Without it, they can feel anxious and out of control. However, they must be approached in a respectful manner. Shaming, any child for that matter, will destroy their self-confidence and put them in a shell where they will feel that everything they do is wrong or not good enough.
Let your child know you are proud of them and praise them even for their littlest achievements. You must realize, most of the children work hard to make their parents proud. Therefore, your criticism even though out of love, can often leave them feeling like a disappoint further lowering their self-esteem.
5. If your child is not excelling in Math or English or any other subject, it is OK. Let them be. Always encourage them but do not degrade them. There will be a day when you or your child will realize the child’s full potential and where their real talent lies.
6. Finally, value your child as a person. Celebrate your child the way they are, not hope that they are something that society says they should be. This will help them naturally build confidence and assist them to make bold choices to go after their dreams. You do not have to produce a compliant, well-behaved child in the typical sense. You must understand the importance of your children’s thoughts and emotions. Celebrate their difference and help them identify, learn and achieve their full potential.
It is not an easy task to change our parenting and teaching styles and our schooling system. But it is all worth it, just to be able to see the “magic” created by our children.
With love, A dyslexic.