Exploring School Choices for Your Dyslexic Learner

Mar 04, 2024
Choosing a school for a dyslexic child

Summary of this blog on YouTube: What Type of School is Best for Dyslexia?

Which type of school is best for a dyslexic thinker?

Let me start by saying that this is a misleading question since there will never be a “one size fits all” school option for all dyslexic children.  They are individuals, and they need individualized learning plans.  But here I've included some step to take to figure out the best option for your child. 

 

STEP 1: ASSESS YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS

Sit down and create a profile of your child as a whole person and as a learner.

  • How do they learn best?
  • Depending on the type and severity of their dyslexia, what types of support will they need?
  • What helps them build self-esteem?  
  • What type of teacher do they click best with?
  • What lights them up in life?

As an example, here’s a list that I would make for my daughter:

  • Needs lots of time to move her body (outdoor play, flexible seating arrangement, breaks etc)
  • Needs multisensory, explicit, structured reading instruction 5 days per week, 45-60 minutes per session, ideally 1:1
  • Needs to be taught assistive technology (dictating answers to questions, audio books, etc)
  • Needs to be in the main classroom for the grade-level subjects and to be with her friends. 
  • Needs lots of time with peers  Relationships are her everything!

 

STEP 2: EXPLORING SCHOOL OPTIONS

There are several types of schools to consider including public school, private school, dyslexia-specific private school and homeschool.  For a list of the dyslexia-specific schools, check out Dyslexis Schools in the US. There are also charter schools and magnet schools in many areas of the country, and these broadly fall under the category of public schools..

Here's the information you need to gather as you consider your options:

PUBLIC SCHOOL

What is the reputation of the public school system where you live?

Are there any local charter or magnet schools that are options?

Who is in charge of special education? (I suggest meeting with this person)

Does your child already have an IEP? Will this school be able to perform the plan that's been made?

What is the average class size? (Look at all levels - elementary, middle, high school)

Are there staff members trained in structured literacy support (such as Orton-Gillingham training)? 

 

PRIVATE SCHOOL

Are you able to afford a private school near you (be sure to explore financial aid before answering)?

Have you explored dyslexia-specific private schools near you?

Will the school make a 504 plan with accommodations? (private schools are NOT required to create or follow IEPs with curriculum modifications)

Do they have a special education staff?  

Is anyone trained in a structured literacy approach, like Orton-Gilllingham? If not, you may need to hire someone separately to do this which will be an added expense.

 

HOMESCHOOL

Is homeschooling an option for you? Who will do the teaching?

I love the information I've seen on Homeschooling with Dyslexia If I were seriously considering homeschooling, this would be my starting point.  She provides lots of tips and resources, including recommended Orton-Gillingham programs that parents can implement at home.

You may also consider hiring a literacy tutor to provide the teaching for structured literacy instruction, and you teach the remainder of the curriculum\

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Once you’ve gathered all the data about the school options available to you and narrowed things down to a few choices, it’s time to go back to your child’s profile.  For each item, which school option would be best to meet that need?

For now my daughter is in public school.  We live in a district with an excellent school system, and she is making great gains with her IEP, but I still repeat this process periodically.  I spend more time thinking about it during transition years, like this year where we are getting ready to move to the middle school.  To me this is not a "set it and forget it" decision.  School systems change (aka budget cuts), teachers change, administrators change and most of all, OUR KIDS CHANGE.  Continuing to check that their current learning system is still serving them well is important. 

I’d love to hear from you. What type of school does your child attend? What helped you make that decision? DM me @parentingdyslexia360







 

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