Recently, I was given the opportunity to tutor young students with dyslexia by helping them learn how to read. Through this experience, I have learned more about how the education system fails students with special needs.
Dyslexia gives individuals the inability to manipulate letters and create words in the same way a neurotypical would. The students I work with can easily identify letters, sound out, and spell words. But as soon as they are asked to read, they often read a word out of order or guess the word because they are overwhelmed.
When I was in elementary school, I remember having daily silent reading. This was great for me, I was an excellent reader and spent most of my free time with my nose in a book. The books provided for reading were grouped into letters from A-P. A books were the least challenging, and P books were the most challenging. Letters A through E were put in a different part of the classroom, making it easy to see who was reading these books. Being a child, not being told any different, I assumed that these students were ‘dumb,’ and I was likely not the only one. This judgement is put on these children early on, which significantly lowers their confidence.
The children I work with are all bright young students who do not deserve to have their confidence shattered. Unfortunately, due to the lack of services provided, these students will feel inept for a lot longer than necessary. Literacy is incredibly important, but unfortunately, funding is low for services that help teach students with dyslexia reading skills.The program I work for offers limited spots due to lack of funding. There are so many students in New Brunswick who need help, but cannot access it. I think the government is making a serious mistake by not funding programs that teach children how to read. Literacy is a fundamental skill, and it should be taken more seriously by our politicians.
The skills used to teach students with dyslexia how to read work well, and show high success rates. However, many teachers do not learn these skills and have difficulty working with these students. If the education system took literacy more seriously and provided funding and support for these issues, students with dyslexia could learn how to read much quicker.
It saddens me to know that these children will likely stay away from books due to the stress that reading has caused them all these years. All children should be given the opportunity to see reading as fun, rather than stressful.
I hope to pursue an education degree in the future and will continue to work hard to help students learn how to read and learn to love reading. However, I alone cannot create change. More people need to learn about the way the education system fails their students, not teaching them skills as fundamental as literacy.