6 June 2019

Thriving with Dyslexia - a new resource for parents

| Rebecca Vassarotti MLA
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A helpful guide to supporting your children through ‘the reading jungle’.

For most of us, learning to read comes pretty naturally. Once we get to school, the knowledge that has been acquired across the education system works for most of us. Most kids are able to travel a pretty standard learning journey to get to where they need to in terms of literacy and learning.

There are however a significant number of children that need additional help. Conditions such as dyslexia are now recognised. A diagnosis can often give some insights into the types of support that is needed for these young people to learn to read and reach their potential.

But it’s not easy. There is still a range of different opinions and views about how to best support children with dyslexia. Individual diagnoses are often complex, and every child is unique. Teacher education covers a wide range of issues and rightly emphasizes techniques that will work for the 85 per cent of kids that don’t have dyslexia. While a growing number of schools are trying to provide tailored support for children that need extra help, resources are tight, expert help hard to access and competing demands often leave parents feeling bewildered and frustrated when they are trying to advocate for their kids.

This was certainly the experience of local parents Gillian and Sarah. As academics and lovers of books, they never expected that their children would all have dyslexia, and didn’t quite know where to turn to support their middle child Max when he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia and really struggled to thrive in a mainstream school.

Like most of us, when they discovered their kids would need additional help, they worked hard to understand the condition, and worked with schools to best support their kids. While the schools tried hard, there was the need to invest lots of time and effort in helping their kids, and making sure that their schools were a great environment for them to learn in. They found that they became experts in understanding the process of learning. They became skilled advocates for their kids. And as they moved through their journey, they realized that they wanted to share their learnings with other families.

This motivated Gillian and Sarah to establish Thrive52, an organisation committed to sharing knowledge and providing support for parents of children with dyslexia. As part of this, they have written a new resource, Thrive with Dyslexia – everything you need to know about reading. This book is aimed at parents who want to support their child through the ‘reading jungle’. This was the book that they were looking for when they started their journey – a book that aimed to provide knowledge to parents to help them do the very best for their kids. Rather than providing a ‘step-by-step guide’ (which was never going to work for their child) they instead wanted something that demystified dyslexia and provided some kind of pathway, that honestly identified some of the likely roadblocks along the way and ways to navigate these.

This won’t be a book for everyone, but is a book that reminds parents working through these complex issues that knowledge is power. It reminds parents that working together with your child can result in great achievements, and celebrating all the strengths of your children is key to them thriving with dyslexia. This is a book of hope, optimism and empowerment, and even if you aren’t supporting a child with dyslexia, it can still provide useful information about the process of learning to read and how you can support your child to read and learn.

Thrive52 is sharing their book with interested parents. Currently it’s available for free download. You can find out more by visiting their website or their facebook page.

What are helpful resources that you have found while supporting your children’s learning?

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