Picking the best school for your dyslexic child
Choosing the right school for your child can often be fraught with anxiety, but it’s even more so when your child has special needs. As you know all too well, dyslexic children can struggle with mainstream education if they are not fully supported and, as a result, can often lose confidence in their abilities.
When considering a school, the first thing to do is arrange a visit. Most independent schools will have set open days. However, with a state school, you may have to make individual arrangements.
During any visit, schools will obviously be putting on their ‘best face’. But nonetheless, you should get some sense of the school’s ethos and day to day life. In particular, you need to look at whether there is an emphasis on individual attention. Academic achievement is obviously important, but if grades are prioritised over the happiness and wellbeing of each pupil then a child with special needs may get left behind.
There are of course many schools, like ours, that cater specifically to children with additional needs. Many parents are reluctant to consider this option as they feel it could prevent their child from achieving their potential. However, I would urge you to reconsider. For many children, particularly those with moderate or severe dyslexia, a specialist school can give them the skills and confidence to really thrive.
Whether deciding on a specialist or mainstream school, you should ask to see their SEN policy. You should also ask about any specialist training teachers have received and what steps are taken in the classroom to support dyslexic children. Teachers may adopt a number of different teaching styles. For instance, dyslexic children often respond well to a kinaesthetic approach – where pupils carry out physical activities rather than just listening to a lecture.
It’s also important to find out what extra-curricular activities the school offers. While dyslexic children can struggle with academic subjects like maths or English, they can often show great talent in sports and the arts. After school clubs (whether rugby or theatre) can often give dyslexic children a vital confidence boost, which, in turn, gives them the resilience to persevere with subjects that are more challenging.
Lastly, if you can, it is always worthwhile speaking to other parents whose children attend the school you are considering. If you don’t know anyone in person, online forums like Mumsnet are often a good way to connect with other parents.