Founder of Simply Learning Tuition, Nathaniel McCullagh, offers his expert advice on how a private tutor can support a child with dyslexia
Most parents are familiar with the idea of tuition prior to school entrance exams, but perhaps not so aware of the advantages of using a private tutor for younger children – particularly those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
If a child is not making the expected developmental progress at pre-school or primary level it is important to find out why. Sometimes a child just needs some one-to-one tuition for a few weeks to consolidate knowledge and provide a confidence boost.
But on other occasions the problem can be more serious and require specialist help – for example with dyslexia, one of the most common specific learning difficulties, affecting 1 in 10 children.
It is important that signs of dyslexia are identified early so that educational interventions can be as effective as possible. According to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) a child with dyslexia will show some of these signs:
- Particular difficulty with reading and spelling – puts letters and figures the wrong way round or leaves letters out
- Has issues remembering tables, alphabet, formulae etc.
- Still occasionally confuses ‘b’ and ‘d’ and words such as ‘no/on’
- Still needs to use fingers or marks on paper to make simple calculations
- Poor concentration
- Has problems understanding what he or she has read
- Takes longer than average to do written work and has problems processing language at speed
- Finds dressing and tying shoelaces and ties difficult ·
- Struggles to tell left from right, to order days of the week or months of the year
- Lacks confidence and has a poor self-image
- Surprises you because in other ways he or she is bright and alert
However it’s important to remember that all children develop at vastly different rates and there can be other reasons for some of the issues listed above, such as eyesight or hearing problems.
The cost of a dyslexia assessment with an educational psychologist ranges from £500 to £900, although it is free if the local authority recommends it. Support such as extra lessons or technology such as laptops and tablets are usually free in a state school but charged for in the private sector. However, support in school may not be one-to-one and the support worker may not be a qualified teacher, nor have specialist a specialist dyslexia qualification.
There can sometimes be a concern that a child who is struggling at school will not cope with additional lessons at home. So it’s useful to talk to your child about why you are thinking of bringing in extra help and explain what the benefits will be. But generally we find that children are happy to feel understood and supported and become more confident and willing to have a go at tasks they previously avoided.
When you first meet the tutor, have a copy of the dyslexia assessment or an educational psychologist’s report to hand, along with some of your child’s school work so they can see their strengths and weaknesses and start to plan a programme. It also helps if you have a list of concerns, but do try to be realistic about what you expect.
Overall don’t worry – there is plenty of help available and you can share with your child the fact that many of the most successful and creative people in society have acknowledged their dyslexia, including CEOs Bill Gates and Richard Branson, actors Keira Knightly and Whoopi Goldberg, film director Steven Spielberg, economist Diane Swonk and chef Jamie Oliver.
Simply Learning Tuition is a leading independent education company providing introductions to private tutors who deliver effective one-to-one academic tuition. It also offers specialist advice throughout a child’s academic journey, from school selection through to university applications and mentoring.