At St. Joseph’s, we are very aware of how difficult school life can be for a child who is dyslexic. For this reason we have implemented a number of programmes in the school to give not just the dyslexic child, by any child who struggles with literacy / numeracy a better chance of becoming confident and competent in reading and maths.

A number of teachers in the school have received training from the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. As part of this training they have gained valuable insight into the best ways to approach teaching with the dyslexic child as well as children struggling with dyscalculia (maths).

So what are the steps you need to take if you as a parent feel your child might be dyslexic?

Firstly, it is always advisable to make your child’s teacher aware of your concerns; then he or she can monitor your child over a few weeks. Your child’s teacher may ask one of the learning support teachers to do a dyslexia screening test with your child. This test may give an indication that your child is at risk of being dyslexic. However it is very important to remember that teachers have plenty of knowledge and insight into dyslexia, but are not qualified to diagnose a child as being dyslexic and this is the job of an educational psychologist.

The next stage is that your child is referred to an educational psychologist to be assessed. This may be done privately or your child may be referred to the NEPS psychologist through the school, depending on the number of assessments allocated. If your child is assessed as dyslexic then he or she will have a report, a copy of which will go to your child’s teacher. The report will advise on a number of interventions which may be successful in helping your child to cope with dyslexia.

Acceleread/Accelewrite is one such programme which is very often mentioned in psychologist’s reports as a programme that improves reading. We use Acceleread/Accelewrite in the homework clubs (which run as part of the School Completion Programme) and at times it is used in the classroom. During the Acceleread/Accelewrite programme, children are able to work one on one with a teacher for 20 minutes each day. Each child works on a computer (talking computer). The child studies a set of work cards which contain sentences. When the child is ready and thinks he/she can type the sentence by him/herself he/she sets about doing doing so. The computer helps by sounding out each letter and therefore helping the child to improve his/her phonics to make the breakdown of words become automatic over time. This is what the fluent reader does naturally, but it is harder for a child with reading difficulties.

If your child is dyslexic and qualifies for a learning support he/she will most likely work on programmes such as SNIP, Toe by Toe and Jolly Phonics; all of which will help him/her to overcome reading difficulties. In the classroom Team Teaching is used to target the student who may not qualify for learning support. During his/her time at St. Joseph’s we hope your child will enjoy learning and achieve their full potential.