Q & A

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am

My 10-year old daughter has special needs help in school for reading. Her reading is below standard so she also finds it difficult to do other subjects like maths because she cannot read the questions very well. She has been withdrawn from class by the special needs teacher for extra help along with several other children. She says that she would rather stay in the classroom because some of the children in her group are naughty and others in the class make fun of her for going. However I don't want her to lose the help.

Teacher Julie McGuire replies:

Firstly, it can be embarrassing for some children to be withdrawn from class to be given extra help. It is important to make your daughter's teacher aware of the teasing so she can put a stop to it. It is also vital that your daughter does not consider herself to be part of the 'naughty' group.

Unfortunately the funding for special needs is often tight and therefore, children may be put in withdrawal groups for different reasons. This may mean that some groups have a wide range of students with differing conditions including, for example, attention deficit disorders. These children find it difficult to focus and are often considered 'naughty' by other class members. This is not an ideal situation but schools have to make the most of the human resources they have.

You have not mentioned which school your daughter attends but many schools, both international and local, are now beginning to have a more inclusive approach to special needs support, especially for those with mild learning difficulties. This means children are more often supported in class alongside their peers. This can be better for their self-esteem as they do not feel pinpointed. Nor are they excluded from activities in the classroom. It also allows them to follow the role models of more able peers.

I suggest you have a meeting with the special needs teacher to explain your worries and explore the possibility of your daughter being supported in class for at least some of the time. Of course, make it clear that you do not want to lose the current support as learning to be a competent reader is a pivotal skill.

For your own part, try to give your daughter help and encouragement with reading at home. Be aware that reading scheme books designed to teach the skills can be rather dry so make sure she is also reading 'real' books which are more likely to engender a love of reading. Make sure she reads different genres such as factual books, poetry, newspapers, comics - anything she enjoys and that will help her to be a flexible and more able reader.