Self-advocacy is an important skill for even young kids to develop. But sometimes it’s hard for grade-schoolers to know what to say. Here are some sentence starters you can teach kids with dyslexia to practice so they can speak up for what they need.
1. “I need help with directions.”
The situation: The teacher doesn’t say all of the directions out loud, and your child is having a hard time making sense of the written ones.
Your child can go up to the teacher and say: “Can I talk through the directions with you?”
Your child can later say to you or the IEP team: “I can do the work once I understand the directions. But it’s hard for me when they’re all in writing.”
2. “It’s part of my learning plan.”
The situation: A substitute teacher doesn’t realize your child uses audiobooks during reading time. The substitute tells your child to leave the listening station and sit somewhere else to do the reading.
Your child can go up to the substitute and say: “I use audiobooks as part of my learning plan. I have dyslexia and they make it easier for me to follow along.”
Your child can talk to the regular teacher later and say: “The substitute didn’t know that I can go to the listening station for reading and told me to leave. I’m worried it will happen again. Can you help?”
3. “Can you help me with a problem?”
The situation: A classmate asks your child, “Why do you always leave the room during reading?”
Your child can say to the teacher after class: “Kids are asking why I leave for reading class. I don’t know what to say. Can you help me come up with an answer?”
4. “I don’t want to stand out.”
The situation: Your child is upset about reading “baby books” while other kids are reading chapter books.
Your child can say to the teacher after class: “Can you help me find books I can read that don’t seem so babyish? I like learning about dinosaurs. Are there other books about dinosaurs I could read?”
5. “I need help staying on track.”
The situation: Your child can’t find the right place during read-aloud time.
Your child can raise a hand and say: “I’m sorry, I lost my place. Which page and paragraph are we on?”
Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “I need a way to keep my place during read-aloud time.”
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.