Here are recommendations from parents of students with dyslexia for making your at-home school run more smoothly.

Until students get back to in-person learning, parents are going to have to continue to monitor their learning at home. Here are recommendations from parents of students with dyslexia for making your at-home school run more smoothly.

Parents Share what Works for at-Home Learning

I am writing this in October 2020. Due to COVID-19, the majority of our students in the US have been “going to school” virtually since March, which is also when I began doing virtual intervention with my clients. I do not have to tell anyone—parents, teachers, clinicians, tutors—what a challenge it is to try and teach students exclusively via an online portal. I think it is best summed up by one of my 5th graders who, if you would have asked him pre-COVID, what he thought about school, he would have said, “I hate it.” This same student is now chomping at the bit to get back to school and in-person learning!

At this moment, it appears that it will be some time before students get back to in-person learning, which means that, as parents, you are going to have to continue to monitor your child’s learning at home. Talk about a gamechanger for parenting! At this point, many of you have come up with a plan to make virtual schooling work, but I suspect you might appreciate some additional tips to make adjustments in your child’s at-home school program. For those tips, I went to the source. I asked parents of students with dyslexia for their insight as to what has worked. Here is what they recommended.

Developing independence

  • Lean into assistive technology for text-to-speech and at-home independent study. Get as much audio text as you can find. Take advantage of the ‘audio’ functions in online platforms to help your child be more independent and be able to access/understand the online assignments on his or her own. Most of the platforms have the options to have the written words/directions read aloud, but sometimes the teacher has to activate it or record it for it to work, so you will need to stay on top of this.
  • Use a timer that has labeled alarms for times when your child has to get back online for a synchronous Zoom meeting after lunch or after a big chunk of asynchronous time. One family uses their iPhone alarms, but they are going to try the Taylor Precision Products (Regular) Taylor Four-Event Digital Timer with Whiteboard for School, Learning, Projects, and Kitchen Tasks. [1]
  • “Our daughter loves having a little “nook” to call her own.” Carve out space for schoolwork with needed supplies and with magnetic boards that show the daily schedule.
  • Print out assignments, worksheets, directions, and the like when possible.


  • We know how important it is for our students with dyslexia to read and to read a lot. Collect a lot of books that your child might enjoy, including graphic novels. Check them out from the public library, purchase them, or safely borrow from trusted friends, the school library, or the teacher’s classroom stash. If your child is hesitant to start reading a new book, read together every night for 15–30 minutes. Once you are far enough into the book, say you need to “skip” a few nights, and encourage him or her to read ahead without you. “Our son is so interested in learning what’s next that he will end up reading it on his own.”
  • Purchase a subscription to a magazine that maps onto your child’s interests, such as Highlights [2], National Geographic for Kids [3], or The Week Junior [4].
  • Establish a small, in-person, socially distanced, reading club, which could be held outside (while we still have nice weather here in the north). Find 3–5 kids at the same level and a tutor or teacher who can guide the book club. In the colder months, this could be conducted virtually.


  • You may have to remind your child’s teacher, who does not know him or her very well given that they are just a little face in a little square on Zoom, about needed accommodations per the IEP or 504 Plan (e.g., receiving a different spelling list based on what patterns or rules he or she is working on with the interventionist). You may need to be stay on top of these things so that your child’s IEP or 504 Plan is adhered to.
  • Make a plan with the school for ensuring your child understands directions in all classes/lessons/platforms (not just reading). Virtual learning can be another barrier faced by your child given that instructions and navigating platforms are all in the written form. The student with dyslexia will likely need extra help understanding where to go on the platform and what everything means.
  • Your child should have a signal with teacher for when extra help is needed. The student could type “help” in the chat box directly to the teacher. This will also help your child learn to self-advocate.
  • Discuss reduction of the work to focus on the most important foundational topics. Drop out of non-essential classes that can stress the student out and use that time to focus on core classes, such as English, math, and science.

Health and wellness

  • Given how challenging virtual learning can be, find an outlet where your child can have a good time and shine. Activities could include engineering/STEM kits [5] sent by mail, local art studio boxes, classes for home baking and cooking with videos, and the like. Celebrate the wins instead of stressing over what assignments were missed or the challenges that have arisen from virtual learning.
  • Make sure to get lots of outside time so the mind, body, and spirit can refresh.
  • Make sure your child eats and sleeps well, which are essential ingredients to being able to learn and keep a positive mood.
  • As a parent, you may have to let go of certain expectations for this school year. One parent wrote, “Mentally getting to the space where I’m not going to stress about her academic performance or meeting every school demand and letting her just enjoy the learning process has helped. This seems to have made her more interested in engaging [in the online learning].”
  • I am grateful to the parents who took the time to offer these suggestions. I hope that you find a gem or two so that your child continues to learn and grow during this academic year. We would love to hear your ideas via our Facebook page [6] as well. I’m sure you have a nugget or two! Last, and, importantly, stay safe!

    Joanne Marttila Pierson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

    In addition to the parents who contributed to these ideas, she is grateful to her partner at 3LI, Dr. Lauren Katz, for her review because she always makes these articles better.