“Let’s just keep an eye on it.”

Let’s imagine these two scenarios for a minute.

  1. Your car is making a funny noise. You take it to your mechanic, who says, “I’ve seen this kind of thing before, but I have no idea how to fix it. It’ll probably stop soon enough.”
  2. Your child is sick. You take him to the doctor, who does an examination and says, “I’ve seen these symptoms before, but I wasn’t trained in how to heal this illness. Let’s just keep an eye on it and see if it goes away.”

How long would you keep going to that mechanic or to that doctor? You wouldn’t keep going, of course! You expect these experts to be trained in how to deal with common problems in their field.

Let’s translate these scenarios into education.

Your child is struggling to sound out words. He has great difficulty learning sight words and with spelling, despite phonics instruction in school. He frequently reverses lowercase B’s and D’s when handwriting. Your child is bright and engaging, but he’s falling behind his peers in reading. Your child’s teacher acknowledges a problem, but she isn’t sure how to help. She hasn’t been trained in how to help common reading problems like dyslexia. It was exactly these circumstances that propelled me to learn about dyslexia and reading difficulties at the end of my college studies.

This post isn’t a criticism of teachers. I am one. Teachers work very hard to meet the needs of every child, and they take professional development seriously. Teachers care very much about their students, and it pains them to see children struggle. But parents, you need to know that your child’s teacher may not have had the training to know how to help your child who is having difficulty with reading. Be aware that children do not usually “grow out of it” when it comes to reading. Extra worksheets or tutoring will NOT help dyslexic children if it’s not the right kind of program. Parents, even the best (and costliest!) private schools may not be equipped to help your child. It’s up to you to ask the right questions and persevere on behalf of your child.

Not sure if it’s dyslexia? See a list of signs of dyslexia.