This is a question I am often asked by parents and it recently came up again in my Facebook group. Parents, like you, struggle to know when they are doing enough to help their child and always feel like they should be doing something more. It is easy to feel this way because dyslexia can be overwhelming and it can always feel that there is more which could be done. This post will give you a road map to help you settle this question for yourself.
1. Make a list of your child's difficulties and then rate them for how seriously they affect your child from 1 -5, with 5 being 'really affected by this'.
This is really the first step to getting to grips with and identifying your child's difficulties and how serious each one is for your child. The key types of difficulties range from:
reading - reading fluently/reading comprehension
writing - getting ideas down/spelling in longer text
maths - times tables/word problems
organisation - organising themselves with books or time keeping
This isn't an exhaustive list and you may be adding in other things here too. If you have had a formal assessment carried out, then this can also help you identify key areas of difficulty.
2. Once you have done this, you can see which one(s) you rated the highest.
These are the areas you want to concentrate on improving first. Make sure that your child's school is focussing on these key areas and are offering appropriate intervention programmes. By doing this, your child will be receiving the best help and improving in the area they most need to.
If you can get the school on board and they do provide appropriate programmes then it is a really good win for your child as you will not necessarily need to cover this at home too.
If you want to hire a specialist teacher for sessions at home, you also know what they need to work on to help your child the most.
As you have worked through step 1, you also know that you are providing the most appropriate help to your child at this moment in time.
3. Should you also be following a programme to remedy this too?
Your child will make faster progress if you do follow an appropriate programme at home too. Research has shown that a 'little and often' approach is the best one, so here we are talking about doing 10-15 minutes per night on 3 or 4 days of the week.
There are quite a few programmes out there which have been devised for parents to do - many of the parents on my Facebook group are willing to share their experiences of programmes they have tried.
If you are following a specific programme at home, then I would also speak to your child's teacher to reduce their homework so that they aren't doing this on top of homework. You don't want these programmes to appear as a punishment with your child having to do lots more than other children in their class.
4. Work out how much time your child is spending doing Dyslexia programmes.
This will also help you decide if your child is doing enough. Work out how long they are receiving at school ( if they are in a group intervention, then divide the time by how many children are in the group to get a better picture of the amount of individual attention they are getting) and then how long you do at home. Try and judge your child objectively and think about the effect this amount of time is having on them - are they genuinely doing too much or are they not really getting enough time?
In my opinion, if they receive a 30 minutes in a week of 1 to 1 at school and then another 40 minutes at home, spread over 4 days then this is enough on top of a school day.
This is not a hard and fast rule and it really comes down to knowing your own child - for some this will be too much while others will be fine.
5. Work out how much time they spend doing fun activities.
This can also help you decide if the balance is right for your child. Everyone's opinion on this will vary with their own values, how much they value education above all else but it can also come down to the age of your child too. What might seem an appropriate balance between school and fun at 8 years old will be entirely different at 15/16 years old.
However, if you have worked out how much time they are spending on activities they enjoy and how much on homework and interventions, this will give you a good overview of how they are spending their time.
You can also bring your child's confidence and self esteem into the mix here, then it is up to you to make the judgement call as to whether there is balance or not.
6. How much progress are they making?
This final question also comes into the mix. If your child is making progress with the current amount of time helping them in the specific areas you have identified, then you are definitely giving your child the right amount of help. You do have to be realistic over progress - as long as they continue to make small steps in the right direction then this is progress. If you set achievable goals for your child to meet each week, then you will also have a measure of whether progress is being made.
If progress isn't being made, then you need to review 2 things:
- Are the programmes being used by yourself and school appropriate for the difficulties your child has?
- How much time are you spending on these programmes?
It can be really difficult weighing up whether a programme you are following is appropriate. If your child is progressing and meeting goals, then in all likelihood, it is. If your child isn't meeting goals and not progressing, then you most likely need to think again. I offer consultation meetings with parents where I can help you decide on appropriate programmes if required. Find out more here.
In summary: You know you are providing enough help when:
- you have identified your child's key areas of difficulties
- your child's school / a specialist teacher or yourself are working on these areas with appropriate programmes
- your child has a balance between school work and things they enjoy and choose to do
- your child is making progress.
If you would like tips and ideas for how to help your dyslexic child, you can join my Free Facebook Group here.
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