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Navigating Dyslexia – Signs Your Child Might Need Support

Awareness, Back to School, Education, Sponsored Content
5 min read
girl student at computer preparing for her school day at Fraser Academy in Vancouver, BC

So often parents whose children are struggling at school are told they will “grow out of it” or that they’ll eventually “catch up”. But navigating dyslexia for children is not as simple as that, and as a parent, you know when something doesn’t feel right. In times like this, it is important to trust your instincts and seek help.

“Our daughter was falling behind in mainstream education. As we watched her confidence and academics diminish, we had her tested. The diagnosis: dyslexia.”

– Current Grade 7 Parent

Women teacher engaging with a student

As the Executive Director of Training and Learning at Fraser Academy, Colleen Chow has seen many parents struggle to recognize and understand both the obvious and the less obvious signs of dyslexia. Located in Vancouver, BC, Fraser Academy is a fully accredited, independent day school, dedicated to helping students with language-based learning differences, like dyslexia, become successful learners.

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell, but there are also many lesser-known indicators that parents and educators may be unaware of.

“We tend to ignore the early signs because there is a belief that everyone learns at different rates so it is okay to wait and see,” said Chow. “It’s important to educate people on what is and what isn’t a sign, as the best intervention is early intervention. From

Kindergarten to Grade 3, a child learns to read, and from Grade 4 onwards, they read to learn. Therefore, it is vital they get the right support as early as possible so they don’t fall behind.”

Dyslexia is genetic and, therefore, a family history of struggling to read or spell may be a sign. At the youngest ages, students may mispronounce words, have difficulty rhyming, or be challenged with the very early skills of connecting letters to sounds. 

As students progress through school, it is important to know that dyslexia exists on a continuum from mild to severe. Some students learn to read, but acquire those skills at a slower pace than their peers. Many children with dyslexia can read, but lack the quality and consistency. At times, a parent may observe their child’s reading is slow and awkward. They will read a word correctly on one line and incorrectly on the next. They may substitute one word for another, such as “house” for “home”, and preserve the meaning.

Parents may also notice that recall of information may fluctuate, being successful with a skill one day but not the next, and they may demonstrate variability in school performance across different subjects. 

“When a child avoids reading or writing, they are telling you that it is hard for them. If it were easy, they would just do it,” said Chow. “Good readers are happy to read when asked, while those that struggle may hesitate or completely shy away from it. If you are worried or seeing signs, ask your child to read.”

Behaviour is communication. Children may not be able to recognize or explain that they are struggling with school, but their behaviour tells a story. Students with dyslexia can be unfairly labeled as lazy or disruptive as they seek ways to avoid work which they can’t, yet, grasp. They may also try to avoid going to school.

The impact of pervasive school struggle can include decreased self-esteem and increased anxiety. Celebrate your child’s strengths, provide emotional support, and reassure them. 

“Before Fraser Academy, our daughter could not read and after four months, she read me a grade-level book. We joyfully cried seeing her tremendous growth in academics, confidence and maturity. We could not be more proud of her.”

– Current Grade 7 Parent 

Fraser Academy’s day school provides a learner-centric environment for Grades 2 to 12. Classes are deliberately small with a maximum of 12 students, ensuring personalized attention in all classroom settings. 

A multi-faceted, evidence-based approach, with a focus on remediation, executive function skills, and effective learning strategies, is key for the success of a student with dyslexia. The program is fulsome to ensure that students receive the same enriched experience as they would in other leading schools. The program works: approximately 95% of Fraser Academy graduates are accepted into post-secondary, including to many renowned universities across Canada and the world. What once seemed impossible for the future to a parent with a struggling child, becomes possible with the right support.

Chow shared, “It is also important to know that once the struggles are navigated, strengths inherent to the dyslexic profile can shine. Dyslexia has no correlation to intelligence and, at Fraser Academy, we ensure strengths such as problem solving, creativity and communication can be nurtured. We take a strengths-based approach that builds confidence and potential.”

Graduation Class in gowns throwing hats at Fraser Academy in Vancouver, BC

Interested in learning more? Spaces for Grades 2 – 12 are available for September 2024 entry. Please visit www.fraseracademy.ca/admissions or call 604-736-5575 to speak with Admissions and arrange a school tour.

Don’t Miss Our Previous Story With BC Parent, Homework Tips For Parents along with our mention about our 2024 Summer Camps! You can also read our mention in BC Parent’s Independent School Guide story.

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