Thursday, April 30, 2009

Partnering in Public Schools

by Guest Blogger Rebecca Messmann of
See also: Dyslexia information | On Dyslexia Testing

Both of my children are in public schools. It can be the best and the worst of situations depending on how you look at it. The worst is when it comes time to accommodate for their dyslexia.
Every state has some sort of “legal” wording in their educational requirements that deals with dyslexia as a learning disability. The accommodations that are frequently included are things like: extra time to complete assignments, having non-reading subjects read to the child, preferential seating and things like that.
Believe it or not the hard part is not getting the accommodations assigned to your child, which trust me, is hard enough. Nope, the hard part is getting teachers to actually “accommodate” your child appropriately. That is where all or your diplomacy and micro-managing comes into play.
For example, I don’t like anything read to my children right off the bat. I want them to try it first and if they get stuck to ask for help. That means that their hands could be raised several times in the course of reading one passage and that one passage could take them forever to read. It never fails that a teacher will get frustrated and just read the passage to them.
Can I fault the teacher? Yes, to some degree. It is her job to teach my child and not every child learns the same way. She should accommodate based on his needs. But at the same time this is public school we are talking about and she has about 19 other children in her class that also need her attention. Can I expect her to just focus on my child to the exclusion of the others? No.
The best in the world of public schools is to develop a partnership with your child’s teacher. Get in there; let them know you realize it is extra work to accommodate your child but emphasis the importance of it. Then develop a plan that works for everyone. Our plan includes our children bringing home work they do not get completed in class that same night. We do not assist them with that work at home but provide the time for them to finish it on their own. A few times of doing this and the child showing their work or still making mistakes builds the trust with the teacher that we are truly not helping them.
Another plan might be that you spend time in the classroom assisting your child and others that might need it. Sometimes, that extra hand in the classroom can make all the difference for the teacher.
You might also ask if the child can have a buddy that helps him with the reading so he does not have to ask the teacher each time. Be creative and not afraid to get in there and suggest some changes. The bottom line is that the teacher needs to know the accommodations, they need to know how you want those accommodations administered, they need to accommodate to give your child a fair chance at success, and they need to know that you are backing them 100%.

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