Saturday, March 13, 2021 by Kara Cook | Special Needs
It is almost a sixth sense sometimes. Teachers can identify it. Parents dread it. Yet sadly it goes unnoticed for years and sometimes even decades.
Chances are, this is the reason why the kid you are tutoring, struggles with reading.
Dyslexia makes reading challenging. It is not a problem of intelligence, laziness, vision, or reading letters backwards.
During my first year of teaching English, I had a boy in my seventh-grade class who could not read. Because of his learning difficulty, he couldn’t read the content to answer questions and he definitely couldn’t read a book aloud.
He was fourteen, two years older than the rest of his class. You could feel his frustration. He would crouch down in his chair, hide behind his book, or even pretend he was asleep. One day I kept him in during recess and asked him what was wrong. So, he told me.
“Mrs Cook, I can’t read. So, it is useless trying.”
His words broke my heart. I told him I would do what I could to get him help. The next day, I met with his mother. When I asked her about his learning difficulties, she said she had tried everything. They moved around a lot and school after school would just pass him off as lazy or disruptive. She was ready to give up hope.
I knew this would be on me.
Endless paperwork and meetings. It took a year to find out that he was dyslexic. I had to fight to get him tested by the psychologist and even harder to get the school to accept responsibility. But it was worth it.
The following year he was given support and placed in a special program. It took him awhile, but he slowly began to build up his confidence. When he graduated a year later from middle school, he wholeheartedly thanked me.
Dyslexia is real.
Dyslexia is a learning difference that makes reading difficult. Generally, dyslexia can cause children problems with sounding out written words, recognising common words in text, spelling, the ability to read fluently, and reading comprehension. However, it is different for each person and can it cause other issues too.
Dyslexia is common.
According to the British Dyslexia Association, the number of individuals with dyslexia in the UK is around 10%. It often runs in families, meaning if a parent is dyslexia, there is a 50% chance that one or more of their children will too.
Dyslexia is lifelong.
Children and adults cannot outgrow dyslexia, but there are ways to improve their reading skills. With the right support, teaching strategies and approaches, people with dyslexia can manage the challenges they face. With time and practice, they can get better at reading.
Ways to Help
A fantastic website is KidsRead2Kids, which was founded by Dyslexic and ADHD siblings Jacob, Alana and Rueben. Their aim is to help kids that struggle with reading. They provide free video-audio books read by kids for kids with easy to listen to chapter by chapter. Their books include shortened classics and easy decodable books. These are excellent learning tools for tutors to use to engage readers.
About the Author
Kara Cook is an experienced primary teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampshire with her husband, 12-year-old son and charming cat. As a private tutor, she offers online tutoring in English for primary and secondary students. Kara is dedicated to helping children to improve their reading and writing. She is currently working on a realistic fiction young adult book.