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Top Tips For Supporting Dyslexic Students Part 3

This is the third instalment on the top tips that the Cardogan Centre Team at St David's College, have provided for you.

I am really grateful to all of you who wrote in with questions for SENCO Vanessa Evans and her team and I truly hope that all three of these articles will be useful to you.

Vanessa Evans - St David's College 

St David's sent over so much information that I have had to break the content down into three chunks out of which this is part 3.

Read Part One - Click here.
Read Part Two - Click here.

So with thanks to Vanessa Evans and her team at St David's, we continue...

How do we support students through exams academically and emotionally? 

  • By being kind …
  • By finding out what their ambitions are (not their parents’ ambitions necessarily!)
  • Set realistic goals
  • Show how to deal with stress
  • Use study diary which has time put aside for chilling, exercising, socialising.
  • Use cognitive questions to identify anxiety linked thoughts and behaviors. 
  • Develop alternative strategies to overcome anxiety e.g time tables, relaxation techniques, growth mindset approach, realistic goalsetting.
  • During the exam: scribing, reading, prompt, provision of a separate roomEmotionally – make sure that they have prepared as much as they can and be there to listen and deal with exam nerves. Sharing of relaxation techniques e.g. mindfulness apps or listening to audible before going to sleep. Reminding them of the importance of eating well, sleeping well and exercising during exam periods.
  • Be there. Help them to realise their potential. Support their learning – emotional and practical (subject specific).

What can parents do to get teachers onside and help them ‘get’ dyslexic students?

Ask for a meeting with the teacher to discuss the child’s difficulty and discuss how the teacher can help make school/classroom a happy and successful place for their child. 
Prepare some key issues and questions and if there are problems, aim to tackle the most important issues first, then chip away at the rest rather than complain about everything all at once. 
Nurture a good relationship with the teacher/school and tell the teacher what you have found works for your child.
Explain, suggest, share how their children do well, fight their corner, be persistent.
Identify student strengths and useful strategies for support they have identified.
Educate themselves and communicate well with the school. Two-way symbiotic relationship. 

Do you use more technology in your teaching than in a mainstream school, and if so what are the benefits?

"I haven’t been in mainstream for a number of years, but I don’t think we use more technology. However, technology is now becoming an essential tool for the Dyslexic Pupil and can change their lives – they will need to use it in everyday life and the earlier it is introduced, the better…"

  • "Enable students to learn without writing and reading barriers
  • Prepare them for the world of work once they leave school
  • Empower them
  • Show them they can perform to the same levels as a non-dyslexic student
  • It helps with productivity and independence.
  • As a 1-1 teacher, my goal is for all of my pupils to be able to access resources digitally, to be able to touch type fluently, to confidently use text to speech software and speech to text, to keep digital notes of their work and to be able to take their exams using a computer – ultimately using assistive technology to become independent learners and to be able to get and keep a job they love.
  • We use a fantastic range of software that we use to support the learning needs of our students.

Do students at St Davids tend to have higher self-esteem than other comparable students? If they do, does their higher self-esteem continues once they have left?

"Generally, I would say yes. Dyslexic students that I have taught here have told me the biggest thing that makes life better here is that they are no longer the ‘odd one out’ in a classroom and asking for help/support here is the norm. This makes them more comfortable in the classroom and they feel as though they are finally understood."

When we meet with past pupils that come to visit/work here, it seems that this could be true.

Our first and overriding goal is picking their self esteem up from the bottom and make them believe in themselves. Sometimes this can take more than a year! I’ve had pupils who did not want to read, so I read for them – for ages – no stress, no pressure. We allow our pupils to relax and to slowly get the courage again to try out something difficult and to take risks. Eventually, in my experience, they want to be stretched and give it a go. At that point, we feel they can start to learn, start to progress academically – only when they are positive about learning!

Yes a SDC student has raised confidence as they are given opportunity (wide range of situations/activities offered)to shine, develop, feel comfortable and normal. 1:1 staff provide continued concentrated support and belief in the student engaging their strengths and finding strategies to minimize their weaknesses. These are identified and communicated via ILP to staff so a consistent approach is used across school.
In addition the moral and ethical background of a Christian school further supports and creates a safe and caring environment allowing students to grow.
Yes and yes J

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