Our human resources director here at the School tells me this all the time, and it has taken me a long while to understand the wisdom in this statement. I am always hoping for things: I hope the year will go well, I hope we have a large number of openings so that we can help more children, I hope that cutting-edge brain research continues to inform our understanding of the dyslexic brain, I hope, I hope, I hope . . . .
But my HR director is absolutely right. Hope is not a strategy! Hoping that the year will go well doesn’t help to make it so. Plans, actions, strategies . . . those are the concrete steps needed to actively ensure that my year will be successful. I can hope all I want, but if I don’t do the necessary leg work and lay the groundwork for success, the result will simply be serendipitous. If I am successful, it’s just the result of good luck!
The same can be said at the beginning of the year for parents of dyslexic children. “We had a wonderful teacher last year who really understood my child. I hope we are as lucky this year.”
Or “my child did a lot of reading over the summer. I hope her struggles are minimal this year.”
Hope truly is not a strategy. The good news is that there are concrete steps parents can take to plan and strategize so that the year is a positive and productive one for your child.
- If you are just beginning to wonder why your child struggles to read, go ahead and schedule a psychoeducational evaluation for your child. If your child is dyslexic, identify resources, programs, and tutors to help remediate your child’s reading deficiencies.
- If you know your child is dyslexic, make sure to line up tutoring for the coming school year. We recommend two one-hour sessions per week, with an Orton-Gillingham trained professional.
- Schedule a meeting with your child’s school now, at the beginning of the school year. Make sure that accommodations are in place for your child, i.e., extended time, pull-out reading instruction, no penalties for spelling errors, reduced spelling lists, etc.
- If you plan to pursue an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child this year, begin to pull together resources that will help you. Be sure that you understand your child’s rights. Understand what accommodations you need to request (these are found in your child’s psychoeducational evaluation). Enlist the help of a public school advocate if you think you need more support in your quest for the services your child needs.
- Consider applying to a specialized school if your child needs more support than your current school can provide. Talk to your psychologist and obtain recommendations, and contact your local or the national branch of the International Dyslexia Association or the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. They can give you contact information for specialized schools in your area.
Hope the sun shines, the temperatures are fair, and your team wins. But don’t leave things to chance that you can control. Make plans, strategize, gather your resources, and help your child have a good school year!