:: for parents ::

When you’ve got questions, we’ve got your back.

When your child is struggling to read, the questions flood into your head—What could be happening? Will this get better? Where can I go for help? The questions can seem endless and the path is unclear. 

As a 50-year old branch of a 100-year old organization, we’re here to tell you there is hope. And now you have an expert partner on your path. We can help you define and understand the characteristics of dyslexia, give you resources for assessment, testing and tutoring, guide you in dealing with your school and much more.

Looking for direction

:: guidance ::

How to Manage a Student's Education

Educate Yourself
Attend conferences, read suggested books, and network with parents who “have been there.” By educating yourself, you not only maintain self-confidence to help you deal with professionals in the field, but also, you are in a stronger position for making informed decisions about your child’s educational career and emotional life.
Create a Notebook of Your Child’s Work
Invest in a 3-ring hole punch and buy a 3-ring binder. Compile your child’s work-everything from crinkled homework sheets, to returned tests, to workbook pages. Organize the papers chronologically and by subject matter. Include anecdotal information as well. Bring it to meetings as written documentation of your child’s progress (or lack of progress).
Keep Expectations High
Too often, teachers and parents lower their expectations because of their child’s learning difficulties, when, in fact, these children need high standards and reasonable goals. When expectations are high, students are forced to face their difficulties. There will be times of setbacks and moments of frustration, but that doesn’t mean you lower your standards, it means to help your child persevere in the face of adversity.
Visit Your Child’s Classroom Often
Volunteer your time in your child’s classroom in any capacity. Your goal is to foster a close working relationship between you and the teacher. You will have an “insider’s view” of the teacher’s teaching style. With this perspective, you will certainly feel more empowered when managing your child’s education, in general, and more able to help with individual homework assignments.
Keep a File of Potential References
Names of reputable tutors who are trained in structured literacy; pediatricians who understand learning disabilities; counselors who deal specifically with emotional support and educational planning; an objective partner who can accompany you to school meetings; psychologist who treats children and adolescents with learning disabilities, etc.
Be Patient on “Off” Days
An “off” day is when things just aren’t in sync for your child. It is important to help your child recognize these days and acknowledge feelings of frustration and discouragement. It is equally important to help your child develop strategies to manage these days. Reassure your child that “off” days will occur, knowing that tomorrow will be a better day.
Read Aloud With Your Child
While your child is receiving intervention for their decoding difficulties, they are most likely reading controlled texts (words in which they have been taught how to sound out). It is important to expose children to additional vocabulary through being read to by an adult of through audio books. Students who have been exposure to a variety of language have a distinct advantage over those students who have not had the same experience with language.
Let You Child Be An “Expert”
Whether it be a non-academic skill such as sewing, tree house building, or drawing- or whether it be a storehouse of knowledge about a specific subject, such as animals, sports, movies, computers, or music-help your child develop an area of expertise. It will provide opportunities for your child to shine in front of his or her peers and meet others who share a common interest.
Start A Dialogue With Your Child
Talk to your child about his or her learning difficulties. Be honest. Be matter-of-fact. Your goal is to demystify the notion that something is “wrong.”
Keep a Sense of Humor
Learning is a challenging, often a painful experience for children with learning difficulties. They need laughter in their lives, and lots of it!

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s a good idea to document all the reasons why you believe your child struggles.

Reviewing the characteristics of dyslexia is a great start.

Next, talk to your child’s teacher. Often, teachers are excellent resources of information regarding areas of strength or weakness in your child’s performance. If you believe your child requires extra school supports, the next step is to see if he/she qualifies for special education services.

No. A medical diagnosis is not required for qualification for special education under the category of Specific Learning Disability.

In fact, a medical or psychological diagnosis of dyslexia will not automatically qualify your child for Special Education services.

No. Schools have the right to verify and/or supplement the testing results you provide, and will generally incorporate the findings into their own comprehensive evaluation and report, which must include classroom observation.

We borrowed a comparison chart from our friends at the National Center for Learning Disabilities to give you an overview. Check out their page on information in this regard and sign up to get onto their email list.

There’s a wealth of information to be found about crafting an effective IEP at WrightsLaw and other online resources, and it’s worth the research! Your child’s Individualized Education Plan will serve as the roadmap for remediation moving forward, so make sure it includes the important components.

:: free download ::

The IDA Dyslexia Handbook

What every family should know!
  • Characteristics of Dyslexia
  • Valid Assessments for Dyslexia
  • Identifying Effective Teaching Approaches
  • Managing the Education of a Student with Dyslexia
  • Transitioning into College
  • And much more!
Shelly Bayer

Shelly Bayer, PhD

Dr. Shelly Bayer is the Assistant Director for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at South Dakota State University where she works with faculty and graduate teaching assistants to create a culture of teaching excellence by promoting evidence-based strategies and encouraging professional and personal growth mindsets. Shelly earned her B.A. in English Education from South Dakota State University, her Masters of Education in Literacy (Certified Reading Specialist) from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and her doctorate in Education Administration – Adult & Higher Education through the University of South Dakota. Prior to her current employment, Shelly taught in public schools in Brookings, SD and Las Vegas, NV. Her educational background combined with her son’s identification as a dyslexic learner inspired her to work to create environments and systems that embrace the strengths of every learner and value each learner’s contributions to the process. Shelly joined the IDA-UMB Board of Directors in April 2018. She was elected as President in July 2021.