30 Oct

During the month of October St Peter’s Woodlands has celebrated Dyslexia Awareness Month with the Light it Red for Dyslexia campaign.

In celebration we asked Belinda, mother of St Peter’s Woodlands Year 7 student Bridie, to share their story of how they have navigated and experienced education. Bridie was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in Year 1.

Navigating the Education System
Facing the future as the mum of a child with dyslexia can be very stressful & often overwhelming, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like living with it every day. Finding the right high school for Bridie was the single most challenging activity I have undertaken in a very long time.

The fence-line tree was lit red throughout the month of October in celebration of the Light it Red for Dyslexia campaign.

Learning Support and supporting Bridie
Our daughter has been a part of Learning Support since Reception when we first identified that there may be working memory issues. She was diagnosed with dyslexia in Year 1.

Learning Support at St Peter’s Woodlands has been critical in providing Bridie with the help and the tools she needs to succeed in a world where “text” is both the key and the barrier to success.

Bridie during her weekly Playberry session with ESO Jane Fahey.

Throughout her years at SPW Bridie has been exposed to the same information as her peers, but in more accessible formats. All her teachers are trained in the latest, evidence-based research on reading, they are knowledgeable in the science of reading, understand dyslexia, and are familiar with the accommodations that Bridie needs to succeed.

Her involvement with Learning Support has provided her with the confidence to approach her subjects knowing that she has the skills to do the work.

Supporting both the student and the parent/caregiver
As a long time parent of SPW I have watched the Learning Support team respond to child and parent needs for over a decade.

The introduction of guest speakers, such as Bill Hansberry has provided professional information to parents, as well as teachers to the latest research and strategies to best support children with learning differences.

Bill Hansberry parent and teacher information night 2019

The school has also provided an on-site psychologist to work alongside Learning Support staff, to assist with early identification and intervention critical to a child’s success in learning and wellbeing.

SPW has a staff of teachers and Education Support Officers who are committed to providing the best education for children in their care. This is demonstrated through their commitment to participating in regular Professional Developments, their every-day interactions with children and their dedication and devotion to the well-being of children. I have found this to be critical when choosing a school for a child with learning differences.

Learning Support Team wearing red in support of the Light it Red for Dyslexia campaign.

Celebrating dyslexia at SPW
SPW’s involvement in the Light it Red for Dyslexia campaign during the month of October empowers our dyslexic children and gives them the sense that someone is listening – the focus is on them for a change and it feels good.

The student paper plane competition as part of the Dyslexia Awareness Month celebrations.

It’s important that they are proud of who they are and don’t feel the need to hide from their learning differences.

Dyslexia morning tea celebrations

Providing students with opportunities
Something else that SPW does well is provide opportunities for children. This has never been more evident than during COVID-19 isolation earlier this year.

The importance of offering activities that allow children to succeed cannot be underestimated. Our daughter has had opportunities to build her confidence through participating in various extra-curricular activities.

She has enjoyed voice lessons, performing in multiple musicals, end of year concerts, cabaret, and school choirs. She’s also played in a multitude of different sports, been selected to sporting Schools of Excellence, selected as Choir Captain… the list is endless. Most importantly these opportunities to succeed outside of the classroom are so essential.

Bridie performing in the Cabaret last year

Understanding dyslexia
Not everyone agrees that the dyslexia label is a good idea. What it gave me as a parent was access to a world of information, support and tools that enabled me to help my daughter navigate our education system.

She still smiles when I list famous people who openly talk about their dyslexia. The dyslexia community includes some of the most talented pioneers the world has ever known, that is the story our different learners need to hear.

She has enjoyed her time with Learning Support, even though the homework is a bit of a chore (insert wink) and will miss seeing Jane every Friday morning.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid!” – Albert Einstein

Thank you to Bridie and Belinda for sharing their important story with us.