De-mystifying your child’s dyslexia report

If you are lucky enough to have a report detailing the areas your child struggles with, then the information inside should provide the perfect road map to help your child to thrive in school and beyond.  However, sadly, most just get shoved in a drawer at school because no-one understands what they mean.

The aim is that you will leave being able to explain your child’s difficulties to anyone helping your child over the forthcoming years.  Particularly useful when they get to secondary school! 

13th June 9:30am at the Kenilworth Centre – BRING YOUR CHILD’S REPORT

Holly’s book launch – get your FREE copy (for a limited time only)

I’m excited to announce that my book, Defeat Dyslexia!: The Parents’ Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Dyslexia, is now available from Amazon.

As a thank you to all the friends who have supported me on this journey, you can download the e-book for free right now. The book has been a labour of love and I hope you enjoy it.

Defeat Dyslexia! (FREE for a limited time only)Please write a review

Free e-book? Where’s the catch…? There really isn’t one! But I would like to ask a favour…

As with any new book, Amazon reviews are incredibly important to its success.

If you enjoy the book, please consider taking 5 minutes to write a short review on Amazon, Good Reads, or both. Mentioning the book to friends and, particularly, on Facebook or Twitter would also mean a lot to me.

Don’t have a Kindle?

No problem! Download your free copy of the e-book and read it on your tablet, phone, or computer using the Kindle app.

Paperback also available

If you prefer physical books (and want a first edition!), the paperback edition of Defeat Dyslexia! can also be purchased from Amazon for £10.99 (including delivery).

Advance reviews

“A clear and concise guide, dispelling myths and laying the path for the exciting journey  through life ahead of those with dyslexia and their support network. A shining star in dyslexia literature.”
– Sarah Bailey, MBACP Psychotherapist, school counsellor, and mother

“This is an invaluable read for anyone trying to navigate the maze of dyslexia. The accessible, practical and light tone make this book highly readable with the case studies bringing the book to life.”
– Louise Scrivener, Independent Speech & Language Therapist

“The book speaks to you in an informative, accessible and friendly manner. It’s easy to understand yet not patronising. Definitely a toolbox ‘go-to’ book – very comprehensive.”
– Cheryl Hunt, Social worker and mother

Read more advance reviews of Defeat Dyslexia!

Coming soon: the Defeat Dyslexia! book

It’s been in the pipeline for a while, so I’m thrilled to announce that my new book, Defeat Dyslexia! will be available to buy as a paperback and e-book from Amazon next month.

Defeat Dyslexia!What’s it all about?

Defeat Dyslexia! is the practical guide to dyslexia for busy parents and carers.

You can find out with what dyslexia really means for your child’s reading, spelling, maths, and other areas of learning, including music, languages, and sport.

Then discover straightforward, positive ways to help your dyslexic child to excel, in school and in life.

Why is it different?

There are a lot of great dyslexia books on the market, but too many of them are academic in tone and overloaded with jargon.

From my years as a teacher of dyslexic children, I know this isn’t what parents want. So Defeat Dyslexia! was written to be jargon-free and easy to read.

But don’t take my word for it…

People much cleverer than me can vouch for the book, too.

Sarah Bailey, an MBACP Psychotherapist, school counsellor, and mother, has this to say about Defeat Dyslexia!:

“A clear and concise guide, dispelling myths and laying the path for the exciting journey  through life ahead of those with dyslexia and their support network.

“As both a professional and a mother of someone with dyslexia, I find this book a shining star in dyslexia literature.”

Read more advance reviews of the book

My simple spelling test and what it means

Should my child be following the statutory KS2 spelling lists?  Give your child this spelling test and find out:

Set One: miss, think, rabbit, catch, have, jumped, quickest, rain, way, enjoy, made, these, time, hope, use, park, week, each, head, term, first, turn, soon, good, road, mouth, down, grow, true, few, pie, field, right, morning, before, saw, August, chair, year, pear, care, very, elephant, which, skin, undo, football. 

These are words containing the spelling patterns taught in Year One under the new national curriculum. 

Set two: edge, huge, city, know, wrong, little, squirrel, hospital, pencil, try, tries, babies, cried, crying, nicer, walk, brother, key, watch, world, warm, usual, happiness,  happily, can’t, couldn’t, national, there/their/they’re. 

These are words containing the spelling patterns taught in Year Two under the new national curriculum.

Here is a link to the new curriculum spelling appendix. It will hopefully help you diagnose which rules and patterns your child has missed. If you would like any help with analysing these, feel free to bring the spellings along to a support group meeting or send me an e-mail hollyswinton@hotmail.co.uk

If your child has absorbed the spelling patterns covered in the infants then it is worth them carrying on with this program.  If not, perhaps they should have targeted spellings, rather than the statutory KS2 ones.  

Schools say there’s nothing they can do, these spellings are statutory – is that true?

Well, yes and no, according to a legal adviser friend.  Apparently, these very hard spellings are no longer statutory if three criteria are met:

  • your child is working well below the National Curriculum level for spelling,
  • your child is on the SEN list
  • your child has targeted spellings as one of his/her targets.

If this case the school will be able to argue to Ofsted (if needed) that s/he has spellings which are more appropriate.

 

Ridiculous spellings – what can I do?

Spellings have always been a key issue for dyslexic children and their parents. Too hard and they destroy self-confidence.  Too random and they are just baffling.

But there is a new problem plaguing parents – statutory national curriculum spellings.  Now, children who can’t spell ‘said’ are being sent home to learn:conscience, controversy, interfere, language, mischievous, nuisance, pronunciation and rhythm.

Complaining parents (who can see their children’s self-esteem crumbling) are met with sad cries from their child’s teacher of “Mrs Jones, there’s nothing we can do as a school, they’re statutory now”

How did this happen? 

The Government has brought in a list of spellings that follow a nice, well-structured (dyslexia-friendly) phonic program, followed by prefixes and suffixes (e.g. un-, inter-) and ending with commonly misspelt words.

A big but…

The problem is that they specified the age children should be taught these things.  Learning to spell ‘conscious’ is fine when you’ve mastered everything else, but not if you’re struggling to spell everyday words like ‘with’, ‘who’ or ‘friend’.  Just because you are ten doesn’t mean you can read the word ‘foreign’, let alone spell it.

Schools say there’s nothing they can do, these spellings are statutory – is that true?

Well, yes and no, according to a legal adviser friend.  Apparently, these very hard spellings are no longer statutory if three criteria are met:

  • your child is working well below the National Curriculum level for spelling,
  • your child is on the SEN list
  • your child has targeted spellings as one of his/her targets.

In this case the school will be able to argue to Ofsted (if needed) that s/he has spellings which are more appropriate.

Hopefully this will be enough to enable you to reassure your child’s class teacher that they can continue to follow best practice and make sure the spellings:

  • are just the right level of difficulty,
  • follow a structure,
  • are useful
  • are different for different groups within the class (or ideally different for each child).

It may be that your child can still follow the new curriculum spelling list, but having found the right entry point (click here for my spelling test to check this).

Seven Simple Ways To Get The Support They Deserve

1) Stay in close contact with your child’s teachers, whether that’s a simple home-school liaison book or suggesting an app like ‘Class Dojo’ (allowing you to message to say the hamster’s died, query homework or flag up difficulties).

2) Send a short e-mail to all their teachers each September, setting out your child’s learning differences and how to best support them (sadly great educational psychologists reports all too often get filed away and never looked at)

3) Agree expectations for homework. set a time limit, after which you can write a note e.g. John worked hard for twenty minutes, but found questions 8-10 too hard. Could homework be listed on a website such as ‘showmyhomework’ to avoid common difficulties around copying it down wrongly, losing it or forgetting to bring it? If not, could the homework be stapled into their homework diary or a pocket notebook your child carries around.

4) Make sure the SENCO or Head of Learning Support have enough time to do their job well and access to training. Consider becoming the SEN governor, to champion this cause.

Help her make sure both the classroom and teaching are dyslexia-friendly (e.g. tint the whiteboard, don’t ask children to copy lots, allow thinking time, use multi sensory techniques)

5) Check your child has a pupil passport www.pupilpassport.co.uk

Pupil Passports are a means of outlining a pupil’s key strengths, needs and the strategies and key adjustments to teaching needed every day.

6) Agree a handful of small S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) targets for your child each term e.g. John will be reminded and praised for checking his work for capital letters.

Set a date for the next review meeting during the current meeting.

7) Check they are making progress and if not, press for small group or one-to-one interventions.

This will be the topic at the Dyslexia Midlands Support Group on Mon 28th Sept.

Probably the best £1.40 you’ll ever spend

Lots of parents ask me what they can get that will make a difference to their child’s grades.  After years of teaching, extensive reading and expensive courses, my best answer is a cross-guard pencil grip.  No, really it is…

Messy handwriting, slow speed or low-level pain are very common.   For 9/10 pupils, the answer is a good pencil grip that forces the fingers into holding the pen in a pain-free and  efficient way.

I have more than a hundred different grips, pens and pencils.  I normally let children try them out, observing how their writing, grip, pressure and posture changes.    Finding the magic bullet has become an obsession.

However, chatting to an Occupational Therapist with the same kind of pen obsession, we discovered that we both almost invariably end up with the cross guard grip.

Whilst it won’t be right for all children, it’s a good place to start!