Talking to your child’s teacher about dyslexia is important. It’s the best way for the teacher to understand your child’s challenges, strengths, and needs, and be able to work with your child successfully. Here are eight tips to help you have productive conversations.
1. Make an appointment.
Teachers’ workdays are jam-packed. Rather than catching your child’s teacher in the hallway before or after school, schedule a 15- to 20-minute appointment. That’s typically enough time to be productive, but short enough that the teacher won’t worry that it’s taking up too much of the day.
2. Share your knowledge about dyslexia.
Try not to assume how much the teacher does or doesn’t know about dyslexia. No matter how much knowledge they have, you both have valuable information that can help your child.
Ask if they’ve come across any material on dyslexia that they found helpful. Share articles or other information that you’ve found helpful. By sharing information, you can create common ground for conversation.
3. Share what has (and hasn’t) worked.
Your child’s teacher may have experience working with kids who have dyslexia. But they might not know which strategies work best for your child. Talk to them about what’s helped in the past. For example, maybe getting a set of teacher notes helped your child review for tests. Be sure to mention what hasn’t worked, too. For instance, perhaps peer editing made your child feel embarrassed or anxious.
4. Be clear, but not critical.
It’s important to be direct about what you believe your child needs. Be specific, rather than hinting at what might be helpful to your child or speaking in generalities. You don’t want the teacher to have to guess at what you actually want.
At the same time, try not to be pushy or overly critical. This could hurt more than it helps. It probably won’t motivate the teacher to put more time and effort into better understanding dyslexia.
5. Show examples.
You can tell the teacher about how dyslexia impacts your child’s work. But the teacher will have a much clearer idea if you have examples.
Bring in samples of last year’s writing, for instance. Or the first draft of the book report your child just turned in. Show the teacher the notes your child took in class that week. Work samples can help the teacher see exactly where your child is struggling.
6. Talk about your child’s strengths, too.
It takes time for teachers to get to know their students. And when your child has dyslexia, the teacher may spend their time focusing on understanding your child’s challenges.
But it’s important to talk to the teacher about what your child does well, too. Talk to the teacher about your child’s strengths and interests. Remind them that dyslexia is only one part of who your child is. You could even encourage the teacher to plan opportunities for your child to shine.
7. Share information about current accommodations.
Don’t assume your child’s teacher is familiar with your child’s or , if your child has one. Give the teacher a copy and ask them to look over the .
Let them know you’re available to talk about how accommodations for dyslexia make a difference for your child. At the same time, make it clear that you expect your child to do what they can to meet school expectations, with the support that they need to do it.
8. Ask how you can help.
Remember that teachers work best with parents who want to be part of a solution. Ask what you can do at home to support what the teacher is doing in school. If you have ideas for what you can do, share them with the teacher.
Being in sync with the teacher lets you reinforce reading strategies your child is learning in school. It also lets your child know that you and the teacher are working as a team to provide the most support possible.
The more you can share with your child’s teacher, the better. Download a 3×3 card to introduce your child to the teacher. And give your child sentence starters to talk to teachers about dyslexia in grade school and in middle school.
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About the author
About the author
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.
Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.