Every child has difficulties when starting primary school, but dyspraxic children can have even more trouble than usual when beginning their journey through the education system. Remembering bags and equipment, completing homework on time and even getting dressed can all be problematic for dyspraxics and add up to create a lot of extra stress. But there are a few simple things parents and carers can do to ease the process.
1: Use as few bags as possible
If at all possible, keep everything your child needs in a single bag! It sounds obvious but it can be a massive help. Whenever I was sent to school with an extra bag for say, PE or crafts, it was odds on I would entirely forget I had it on me and leave it somewhere. My mum soon realised it was best to jam everything into my backpack so that I only had the one thing to remember. True, my bag was often close to bursting but I left things behind much less often!
2: Leave things at school
Another way of minimising things getting lost is to leave as many items as possible at school. Ideally, anything that doesn’t need to come home ought to stay at school. Not all schools routinely provide places to leave things like stationary, textbooks and food tech supplies, but sometimes a word in the ear of the teacher can be enough to arrange to leave things in the classroom. Having fewer things to remember for lessons can take an enormous amount of pressure off a dyspraxic child.
3: Arrange a weekly “pickup day”
No matter what precautions you take, chances are your child is going to leave things behind at school. Things like jumpers, PE kit and other ends and are bound to be left behind on a regular basis. My mum found it was really helpful to come in after school once a week and have a route through lost property. It saved me a lot of stress and probably saved our family a small fortune in school supplies as well!
4: Consider elastic laces and clip on ties
Tying knots can be a nightmare for people with Dyspraxia. Fiddling with ties or shoelaces can cause added pressure and embarrassment for a child. Clip on ties or elastic shoelaces mean there’s no need to fuss with knots for a whole day and free up a child to focus their time on other things.
I’d advise asking your child what they think of this suggestion though. Whilst some children may find elastic shoelaces or clip on ties helpful, others may feel that using them could mark them out as different or bring unwanted attention.
5: Talk about dyspraxia as much as necessary
This seems obvious but it’s a really important one! It’s absolutely essential that teachers, teaching assistants, administrators and any other staff involved with your child at school know about Dyspraxia. We have to remember that a lot of people have never even heard of dyspraxia, but we can make such a difference just by giving a brief explanation to the people who are going to be in contact with dyspraxics on a daily basis.
It may help to give the relevant staff a short fact sheet, perhaps containing information from the NHS or Dyspraxia Foundation. It can really help a child if their teachers know the reasons why their posture, concentration or organisation might appear below par. Communication is the key to understanding and dyspraxic children need as much understanding as possible if they are to thrive in school.