TECHNOLOGY IS SMART, BUT YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS COME FIRST
I often see well-meaning parents focusing on technology. “This is so clever. It can fix my child’s problems with reading and spelling.”
Yes, technology is smart. And yes, it can help reading and spelling.
But if your child’s apps and programs don’t fit them, then your child won’t be getting anywhere.
It is like an old pick-up truck and a Ferrari. The minority of people will invest in a pick-up truck if they have to race. I would personally pick the Ferrari. But if it is for everyday driving outside the cities, many would probably prefer a pick-up truck. The car must fit my needs.
Therefore, my recommendations to you when you have to help your child with assistive technology are as follows:
1 – First of all, look at your child’s needs
Your child develops throughout the schoolyears. Your child does not need the same tools all the time.
In elementary school, it might be all about getting texts read out loud in math, while in middle school, it may be about having a good word suggestion program that can help with long and difficult words in history.
Therefore, it is important to understand your child’s needs for the individual functions concerning those tasks that your child has.
The five functions that can fulfil your child’s needs are:
- OCR (optical character recognition)
- Word suggestions
2 – Help your child make the tools meaningful
I am not doing anything if it doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe you feel the same way?
Your dyslexic child will most likely not use the tools if they don’t make sense to use: “Why should I use them when no one else has to?”, “I don’t want to use them; it is a boring voice that reads out loud!”
It is individual what makes sense when it comes to using the apps and tools for dyslexics.
But my suggestion to you is that you either work at checking how much time your child saves by using the assistive technology.
And, therefore, can have fun with other things than homework during the weekdays.
Or, you can see that it becomes easier to solve the tasks, so your child becomes even better because your child can focus on the aim of the task and isn’t focusing on reading and spelling their way through, for instance, a math problem.
3 – Drop the idea that you should be a teacher or an IT expert to help your child
You shouldn’t despair if you aren’t a teacher or a technical guru.
That is not important to help your child with using apps and tools for dyslexics.
Instead, you should focus on your child’s needs and help your child see the point of using the assistive technology.
Often, too much focus on the technique can hinder parents in thinking that they can help their children. But you shouldn’t feel that way.
You can always get help with the tech stuff, and it isn’t your IT-knowledge that will make your child use the tools.
Instead, it is your support that will make the child explore them. You should be a parent first.
My own experience is that I am happy that my mum didn’t try to be a teacher.
Of course, she helped with my homework (when I didn’t try to run away or create trouble), but she ensured that all my time after school wasn’t spent with schoolwork.
If you still think that you aren’t an IT-expert and will make things worse, then I can say that I often see the children becoming their own experts.
If your child isn’t there yet, then the school or the provider of the tools will be able to help with the technical stuff.