Dyslexia Friendly School

Devon Dyslexia Definition: Dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent reading and or spelling develops very incompletely or with greater difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at a ‘word level’ and implies that the problem is severe and persistent, despite appropriate learning opportunities. It provides the basis for a staged process of assessment through teaching. (British Psychological Society 1999, adopted by the Devon Local Authority)

Difficulties also associated with Dyslexia may include poor working memory, poor sequencing skills, auditory or visual problems. These are not defining characteristics.


How We Help your Child with Reading and Spelling

At Culmstock we use Sounds-Write to teach a daily phonic’s lesson. This programme is a genuinely phonic approach to the teaching of reading, based on the sounds in speech and moves from the sounds to the written word. The programme is based on the letter sounds and not the letter names, which we would actively encourage you to use at home with your child.

When the children start school, they will be introduced to these sounds in the following order:

Unit 1: a, i, m, s, t

Unit 2: n, o, p

Unit 3: b, c, g, h

Unit 4: d, f, v, e

Unit 5: k, l, r, u

Unit 6: j, w, z

Unit 7: x, y, ff, ll, ss

Every week or so, we will begin a new unit and build the new sounds into what we have already introduced.


What are we trying to teach?

We want the children to learn that letters are symbols for sounds, so that when they see the letters:

< m > < a > < t >, they say and hear /m/ /a/ /t/ 'mat'.

Throughout the course of a week, the children play different games, which will help your child to understand that everyday words are made up of sounds and that we can pull these sounds in words apart: thus, 'cat' can be separated into /c/ /a/ /t/; and we can put these sounds back together again to form recognisable words: thus, /c/ /a/ /t/ gives us 'cat'.

Children continue to be taught phonics as they progress into KS2.They are taught alternative spellings for sounds and are exposed to and encouraged to use strategies for making informed choices in their writing.


Comments from Teachers:

‘Since starting the Sounds-Write programme with my class of Reception aged children, I have been amazed at the progress they have made. Children with very moderate learning difficulties have become confident readers and writers. In the past, I have found that the writing skills were slower to be taken on board. With Sounds-Write, they progress in reading and writing together.’

Pam Morgan, Senior Teacher, Early Years, St Thomas Aquinas

‘Sounds-Write has had an immediate effect on raising standards in reading and spelling at our school.’

Monica Basham, Head Teacher, St Thomas Aquinas


Dyslexia and Coping with the Challenges of School

Supporting Your Child

Be aware of the frustration of slow and sometimes laboured literacy skill’s acquisition that your child faces daily in school. As a result of these frustrations, your child may develop low self-esteem, fatigue, behavioural difficulties and reduced motivation. This can mean that they are reluctant, or even refuse to write, having convinced themselves that they cannot do this. This cycle can become entrenched and self esteem plummets.

You can help raise their feelings of self worth by:

• Working with the school to find ways to support and guide your child.

• Encouraging your child to talk about their difficulties and successes.

• Praising your child when they achieve success in any area.

• Encouraging your child to take up activities in and outside of school, at which they can be successful

• Avoiding negative comparisons with other children or younger siblings.

• Avoiding talking to others about your child’s difficulties when they are present

• Making them aware of positive role models to encourage ambition; the British Dyslexia Association has a good list

• Being positive. Focus on what they can do; not what they can’t.


Helping with Home Learning

This can often be a tense and difficult issue for parents and children. Try to remove some of the negatives by remaining calm, but be very clear about what needs to be done.

You may feel unable to ‘help’ with the actual content of the homework. Do not worry about this. Your role is not to do the homework for your child. It is to provide the structure and support needed. If he/she can’t do the homework, then let your child’s teacher know.

Some points to consider when supporting your child’s home learning:

• Be patient and encouraging. If you find yourself getting annoyed or angry, it is usually best to stop and try again later or another day. Do your best to finish the session as positively as possible.

• Negotiate an agreed time to do homework, which fits in with your family routine in the evening and at weekends. Draw up a visual timetable, if it helps, of all the activities that everyone is involved in across the week and fit the homework into a regular slot, so that it becomes an accepted part of what happens. It is much easier to achieve this if it can be the same time each week.

• Be aware that your child has to work exceedingly hard at school and does get very, very tired.

• Agree, with your child, how long each session should last. This will obviously depend upon a number of factors such as the amount of home learning, concentration levels. It might be useful for you to indicate in their home learning diary or on the piece of home learning how much time has been taken to produce a piece of work. This will help your child’s teacher modify what is expected of them, if it is taking onerous amounts of time.

• Be interested in what your child is doing.

• Encourage independence, wherever possible. However, if you have the time, it is perfectly acceptable for your child to dictate their ideas and you write them down, if the writing demands of a task are considerable. Always indicate to the teacher that this has been done.

• Explain carefully to brothers and sisters who are not experiencing difficulties with literacy the kind of difficulties your child is dealing with, as this can become a source of conflict. Help them to be supportive.


Suggestions for other ways you could help at home:

1. Read aloud to your child - never mind their age. Try to encourage them to follow the text you are reading as you do this.

2. Encourage them to listen to books recorded onto tape or CD. If there is an accompanying book that they can follow, great. The local library is always a good place to obtain talking books for a small hire charge. It may be possible for you to obtain a ‘disabled reader’s ticket’, which would allow you to access tapes and CDs of written material free of charge. Ask at your library for a form to apply for this. For £70 per year you can join Listening Books, which will give you access to some of the best audio books on the market. (www.listening-books.org.uk).

3. Have fun with words.

4. Play word games.

5. Encourage leisure activities, particularly ones involving physical exercise, such as swimming, cycling, gymnastics, skate boarding, roller blading, juggling.

6. Build on strengths to boost self-confidence and self-esteem.

7. Give praise for any sign of improvement.

8. If your child does not already have a television in their bedroom, think very carefully before permitting them to have one.

Remember, if you are doing something constructive to help your child you are less likely to be anxious yourself about literacy difficulties. Your anxiety is easily communicated to your child and can lead to them becoming anxious too.


Reading At Home with Your Child

Reading should be a pleasure, not a chore.

It is really important that you make reading a natural part of family activities.

• Try to make sure that your child sees you reading regularly.

• Be aware that reading is not just about reading books, it plays a large part in our daily lives.

• Talk about the books, newspapers or magazines you have been reading.

• Find a magazine based on your child’s interests to read together.

• Use local libraries and bookshops.

• Try to make sharing a book part of the evening routine (maybe at bedtime for younger children)

• Barrington Stoke publishes books written by many contemporary famous authors for children with a younger reading age, but with more mature content. The print and layout is dyslexia friendly and their books are designed to engage all children, but especially boys.

• Make use of audio-tapes - available in libraries or on loan from Listening Books: 12, Lant Street, London, SE1 1QH (Tel 0171-4079417; website: www.listening-books.org.uk) or look at the iTunes audio books

• Read aloud to your child as often as possible, making it an enjoyable experience that you share together.

• If you have much younger children, encourage your child to hear them read or even read simple books to the much younger brother or sister.

• Sometimes grandparents, or even friends have more success with encouraging your child to read regularly, which is less stressful for you and your child.

• Whenever you are reading with your child at home, try to identify the purpose. For example, is it for fun, or for homework, or to find out information on a ‘need-to-know’ basis.


Reading Aloud:

When you are reading aloud to your child, encourage them to follow the text as you are reading it. This will help to develop the eye movements needed for reading. Try to make the whole experience an enjoyable one.

If your child is reading aloud to you from a book s/he has brought home from school, try to consider the following:

• Choose a quiet place to read.

• Sit side by side in a comfortable position.

• Choose a time to read when you both feel good (not hungry, tired or upset).

• 10 – 15 minutes reading aloud is long enough.

• Be patient.

• Always praise your child for the words and sentences he reads well, and try hard to conceal any frustration you might feel if he is struggling.

• Contact the school to ask about advice on any strategies they might be using in school.


Try to keep the flow of the reading going:

• If your child cannot read a word, do not allow him/her to struggle. Read the sounds in the word, for example ‘l oa d’ and push them back together ‘load’. Then move on.

• Sometimes take it in turns to read a sentence or a paragraph, particularly if it’s a long book. Many children enjoy being read to, so if the reading is becoming a struggle, you take over and finish the session – ending on a positive note.

• Try to build up their confidence to have a go. To do this it is important not to criticise any mistakes.

• Check that they understand the meaning of what they are reading by discussing what might happen next, what they think about the story or the characters, reviewing where you got up to in the storyline last time you read.



Useful Contacts:

Devon Dyslexia Helpline

Helpline: 01392 680669

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Devon Parent Partnership Service

Telephone: 01392 383080

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


By post:

Devon Parent Partnership Service

Bradninch Hall

Castle Street


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