The Road to Success: Supporting Your Dyslexic Teen in Secondary School

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As Summer ends and we prepare to adjust to the change in season to Autumn children across the country are preparing to make the leap from Key stage 2 into Key stage 3, from primary to secondary school.

For many this is an exciting time, for others it can be daunting.

If your child has dyslexia, you may be worried about how they will cope.

How will they organise themselves?  How will they remember which lesson to go? Navigate their way through the maze of a new school building to find the correct classrooms? How will they remember what their homework is by the time they return home, never mind if they will remember to hand it in on time? Will they catch the right bus or remember the correct route to school?

Pupils with dyslexia have to put in an enormous effort to cope with the daily challenges of the school
day. It is particularly hard at secondary school where they have different subject teachers who may have varying levels of expectation, understanding and knowledge of dyslexia.

The best place to start in supporting them is to share information with the school staff about your child’s specific learning difficulties as soon as possible, ideally before they start their new secondary school. Form tutors, Heads of Year and the SENCO’s are all great points of contact as they will be overseeing your child’s education and can support your child in their new school. Work  as a team supporting, not rescuing  your emerging teen.

Here my tips for parents of dyslexic teens starting secondary school:

  • Open Communication:

Maintain open and honest communication with your teen. Encourage them to share their thoughts and concerns about school.

  • Advocate for Support:

Work closely with the school to ensure your teen receives appropriate support for their dyslexia. This may include extra time for tests, access to assistive technology, or specialised instruction.

  • Build Confidence:

Help your teen build self-confidence by highlighting their strengths and accomplishments. Dyslexic individuals often excel in creative and practical areas.

  • Organisational Skills:

Teach your teen organisational skills to help them manage assignments and deadlines. Consider using tools like planners or digital apps.

  • Nurture thinking skills.

Encourage thinking skills that support your child in becoming an independent and active, rather than a passive, learner. Encourage their curiosity. Discuss the problem or topic involved in a school assignment or reading. Listen. Share points of view. This can be fun and quality time spent together.

  • Tutoring and Intervention:

Explore tutoring or specialised intervention programmes to address specific reading and writing challenges. Early intervention can make a significant difference.

  • Encourage Reading:

Encourage reading for pleasure. Find books that interest your teen, including audiobooks and e-books, which can be easier to access.

  • Assistive Technology:

Explore assistive technology options like text-to-speech software, speech-to-text applications, or dyslexia-friendly fonts to aid in reading and writing tasks.

  • Support Homework Routine:

Establish a consistent homework routine and provide a quiet, organised space for studying.

  • Emotional Support:

Be empathetic and provide emotional support. Dyslexic teens may face frustration and self-esteem issues; reassure them that dyslexia doesn’t define their intelligence.

  • Build a Network:

Connect with other parents of dyslexic students and support groups to share experiences and resources.

  • Encourage Self-Advocacy:

Teach your teen to self-advocate by helping them understand their learning needs and communicate them to teachers.

  • Celebrate Achievements:

Celebrate your teen’s achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can motivate them to keep working hard.

Getting Practical:

Encourage them to pack their own bag and to think about what equipment needs to be packed the night before the next day –  to avoid last minute panic!

Keep a laminated copy of their timetable on the fridge in the kitchen for everyone to see easily.

Keep an eye on the learning hub where teachers post homework and longer projects – keep those details handy up on the fridge too.

Get your teen to take a photo of homework, team fixtures, drama club rehearsals on their phone or leave themselves voice messages with that information to make it easier to access.

Break school homework down into small steps or chunks. You might separate out the questions on a worksheet by drawing circles around different groups. If on Monday the school homework is a list of 10 spelling words to be learned by Friday, encourage your child to do a little bit each day.

Ensure they get enough sleep. This is relevant, whether your child has dyslexia or not. A well-fed and well-rested child learns better, so get them off to bed in good time so they wake up refreshed. A good night’s sleep boosts their confidence too.

Set up a study space. Each child’s learning style is different. Some will be happy at the kitchen table with a buzz of activity going on around them; others will need peace and quiet to get anything done – learn more about helping children with attention difficulties and auditory processing disorder. Make sure they know they have a dedicated space to retreat to when they need it.

Remember that each dyslexic teen is unique, so tailor your support to their individual needs and preferences. Regular communication with teachers and educational specialists can help ensure your teen’s success in secondary school.


Join Paloma Forde, a Dyslexia Specialist, Trainer and Author and myself for a POWER HOUR

Help my child has dyslexia! How to BEST support your child at home.

Date for your Diary!

November 28th at 7.30pm for a friendly and informal up close conversation where they shall be speaking all things parenting and support in the home environment.

This is a time to bring questions and chat to then LIVE on Zoom.

Understand how to best speak to your child about their dyslexia

Understand the Power of Positive talking!

Learn how you can support your child in the home environment with tips on products and resources that work BEST.

Feel more confident that you CAN support your child and that your child WILL be SUCCESSFUL!

There will be significant time for Q and A as this LIVE event is also based around Open discussions, so DO come along with Questions and DO NOT be shy!

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