GUEST POST: The Literacy Nest --- Building Bridges: Tips for Uniting Families and Educators in Dyslexia Awareness

Building Bridges: Tips for Uniting Families and Educators in Dyslexia Awareness

I am so happy to be a guest blogger for Redwood Literacy. Thank you for welcoming me to your blog today. 

A little about me first: I’m a mom of four wonderful children, ages seven and under and live in the Boston area. I have been an educator for nearly twenty years. The first twelve years involved teaching in an inclusion classroom setting and becoming trained in structured literacy practices with a multisensory approach. 

Currently, I work privately with children using the Orton-Gillingham approach. As founder of The Literacy Nest, I strive to spread dyslexia awareness, research about best literacy practices, and the science of reading. I also create resources for teachers and families who need access to reading intervention materials. 

This past summer, I hosted an online conference called, Building Readers For Life. In my presentation, I emphasized the importance of building bridges in the education world. What do bridges do? They provide a pathway. It’s open access to get across a body of water safely. 

When families have children who struggle with reading, it can be an exhausting and overwhelming process to get the services necessary to help them succeed. When we have families who need help on one side and the educators are on the other, there doesn’t have to be an inaccessible body of water separating the two, so that communication has the potential to become difficult. 

What are the benefits when a bridge has been created?

It can be overwhelming and confusing for a parent or care-taker when they’re trying to navigate and  process all of the testing, data, reports, school district policies, curriculum decisions, an IEP or 504, what the law says AND the social-emotional well-being of a child. It can also be challenging for a classroom teacher as well. When both sides comes to consensus that decisions are made in the best interest of the child first, then real progress can begin. 

Here are some important points to remember that in order to reach a consensus so this bridge can be formed:

  • Trust: When trust is established, common ground can be reached. 

  • Listen: Hear about all the options that are available and feasible to help a child make progress and decide which ones will work best.

  • Uniqueness: Every child is different. Every family if different. Every brain is different. There is no one size fits all approach when determining what is best for a child with dyslexia.

  • Strengths: Acknowledge that in addition so weaknesses in academics, a child also possesses talents and strengths. 

  • Communication: Find the best way to have meaningful and productive conversations about the student. Email isn’t usually the best route when you have many details to discuss. 

  • Honesty:

What are some ways we can build a bridge to create a pathway of communication?

  • Agree on a commitment to one or two forms of communication and stick to it. That might be narrowed down only to a phone conversation or an in person meeting. 

  • Ask about record keeping. What are the methods used to keep track of all the paperwork? A child with dyslexia can also have a pretty lengthy paper trail. Educators and parents should have a system in place for keeping track of it. 

  • Meeting notes: There is usually someone in a team meeting taking notes which are then passed onto the family. Be sure to have copies of all notes.

  • Get help: When English is not the first language in the home, the school tries its best to provide translators. Getting help might also mean having an advocate to assist with navigating through the IEP process. 

  • Share: If you happen to find a book or findings from an educational research study that may help, by all means, take the time to share that information. Both families and educators will benefit.  

Here is a list of some helpful books I recommend to help families and educators stay informed and to help create bridges for success.

  1. Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz

  2. What To Do About Dyslexia by Dr. David Selznick

  3. The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide

  4. The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss

  5. Dyslexia Explained by Nessy (e-book)

*I also highly recommend accessing information from the International Dyslexia Association website. 

In closing, we know that our decisions will shape the path of a child’s future. This can be an incredibly important task. Keeping open and honest communication will keep access to the bridge wide open. Then, both educators and families can have a powerful impact on the future of education. 

To learn more about my work, please visit www.theliteracynest.com. You’ll find many blog posts about dyslexia and using a structured literacy approach. My website is a bridge for families and teachers! You may also want to sign up to receive my weekly emails. Thank you for reading this post today!