If your child's academic skills are not consistently average or better, then he is unlikely to learn to read with independence through the efforts of most schools. Schools are experts in average, but rarely have either the training or resources to provide the many months of intensive, individual, highly specialized instruction that some students require to achieve independence. In these cases, parents must take charge.
Most struggling students will not miss anything of significance, to step out of the "school system" for a year or more. Science and social studies revisit the same topics repeatedly over the years, and can be easily covered through homeschooling. However to remain in a situation where a child participates in a charade of "education," unable to read and write independently does have dire consequences that is a strain on the entire family. To spend time enabling a child to develop strong skills in reading, writing, and math fundamentals is key to independence!
Just as an "at home mom" or dad is actively engaged in the community, a "home school" student has a wide variety of educational and social opportunities. Parents often teach the academics that are their personal strength, and students also participate in individual and group lessons offered throughout the area depending on the topic and situation. Look to local news and social media sites for links to home-school networks in your area. There you'll find information and the simple guidance to starting the process.
By the end of Kindergarten many parents know if their child is within the range of "average" in basic skills needed for reading, writing, and math. Those who are not comfortably within the "average" range are at tremendous risk of never catching up --because while public schools provide a PLACE for every student, they do not have the professional and financial resources to PROVIDE EFFECTIVE SERVICES for every student. Legislation cannot ensure effective delivery of services. Consider your alternatives!
"Effective instruction" enables students to achieve independence in reading at their age appropriate grade level. For dyslexic learners, effective instruction meets the standards of the International Multisensory Structured Language Council (IMSLEC) and the International Dyslexia Association.
A Reading Teacher (or classroom teacher who teaches reading) generally has training in "guided reading," which fosters reading through facilitated learning: students are given picture books and letter/picture manipulatives and encouraged to listen, repeat, memorize, guess, and generalize. Based in Humanities theory and tradition, this is effective for many students, but is often harmful to dyslexic learners.
A Reading Specialist in Virginia is a Reading Teacher with additional training in managing general school-wide curriculum and standardized testing.
In contrast, a Certified Academic Therapist has advanced Multisensory Structured Language training. It is based in neuroscience and Orton-Gillingham methodology, proven effective for the dyslexic learner. MSLT is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics 2011) for students with dyslexia, beginning as early as the end of Kindergarten.
Even the best general education teacher
cannot give your child with dyslexia the one thing that is needed: the
combined individual time (4-5 hours/week) and specialized expertise
which is required to bridge some children from non-reader to
independent, grade-level reader.
Would you expect your child to become a good tennis player by attending an aerobic class, or participating on a softball team (running and swinging arms are practiced, right)? Would you expect your pediatrician to do ENT surgery (they are both doctors, right)? Should volunteers (anyone who wants to help, or teenagers who need service hours, or college kids who like to work with kids) deliver physical therapy so it won't cost so much?
Scientific evidence collected since the 1990's has identified the most effective instructional methods which enable those with dyslexia to read and write effectively. Multisensory Structured Language instruction (often called "Orton-Gillingham," after the pioneers who first identified the effective methods) has been practiced for over 80 years. However only in the past 20 years has f-MRI technology enabled scientists to quantify the effectiveness of instructional methods, and clearly identify the right way to teach reading and writing to those with dyslexia.
When students with dyslexia receive daily, individual Multisensory Structured Language Therapy (recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics March 2011) by a Certified Academic Therapist specializing in dyslexia, they typically become on-grade-level readers within 18-36 months. Students with dyslexia who are reading "below bench mark" and do not receive such intensive specialized instruction typically do not reach independence in reading.
Ultimately, the least expensive and most effective instruction for students with dyslexia is individual, intensive Multisensory Structured Language Therapy provided by a Certified Academic Therapist. The younger students are when they begin this dyslexia-specific instruction, the quicker they can be working independently at grade-level.
The harm of "waiting:" Dyslexia may not be evident in some until end of second grade, however most dyslexics can be identified before the end of Kindergarten. Withholding the correct instructional method can cause learning disabilities, anxiety, behavioral and attention problems.
Don't wait. Get your child the right instruction, right NOW. It is an investment that will pay off immediately, last a lifetime, and influence generations to come!