16 December, 2022

Nord Anglia alumnus shares his top five study tips for students with dyslexia

Nord Anglia alumnus shares his top five study tips for students with dyslexia - Nord Anglia alumnus shares five study tips for students with dyslexia
Nord Anglia alumnus shares his top five study tips for students with dyslexia

Thomas was seven years old when he was first diagnosed with dyslexia. A common neurological learning challenge for one in 10 people according to the National Health Service (NHS), dyslexia can make reading, writing and spelling difficult.

“It wasn’t until my family moved overseas and I attended a Nord Anglia Education school that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Until that point, I largely flew under the radar which slowed my academic growth. As soon as I switched to a Nord Anglia school, I was given the right support,” Thomas said.

Now 20 years old and attending a top university in the UK, Thomas wants to encourage any parent worrying about their child with dyslexia: “The learning challenge isn’t something that should define a person, but rather, be seen as a unique part of them with its own gifts”.

“As a result of the neurological pathways that come with dyslexia, I’ve met many creative out-of-the-box thinkers that see things from other angles. I think this is a result of working differently to achieve what comes naturally to others, and figuring out other ways to process words that most would find easy,” Thomas said.

In his early years, Thomas found reading and writing in particular a struggle, taking him some time to pick up a book for pleasure.

Once his family moved to Vietnam, his primary teacher at Nord Anglia’s British International School Ho Chi Minh City (BIS HCMC) recognised his challenges, and personalised his learning pathway to provide more support.

Embedded within all Nord Anglia schools is the goal to help students unlock their potential and achieve more than they ever thought possible, irrespective of their abilities, talents and skills. And Thomas was no exception to this rule. “I learnt not to be defined by what challenged me. I may not always get to choose the picture of my life, but I do get to choose the colours that I’ll paint with,” he said.

Having a safe space to fail was also an important part of Thomas’s learning journey. The two Nord Anglia schools that Thomas attended, BIS HCMC and afterwards, Northbridge International School Cambodia (NISC), gave him the freedom to learn, grow, and make mistakes in a one-to-one environment. This made all the difference for his personal development; he was able to learn at his own pace without the stress of falling behind.

Nord Anglia International School Abu Dhabi principal, Jonathan Cuff strongly believes a personalised approach to education can make all the difference to a child's development, and their sense of identity in this world. 

"Learning support, in whatever form that might take, tailored to each individual pupil, is an incredible valuable tool towards understanding their own learning habits and opening the door to greater success," he said. "To develop an understanding of oneself - how you work best, how you learn, how you best find focus - are things every student can benefit from, irrespective of their academic ability or neurological condition.

"Supporting a child’s learning beyond the normal curriculum is key to helping them succeed and success, of course, is at the forefront of developing a love of learning. As Dr Marcus Specht said, ‘Students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their context’. I couldn’t agree more."

Due to its outstanding global reputation, Nord Anglia attracts some of the world's best teachers and educational experts. It was these specialists that gave Thomas the daily support that helped him successfully work his way up to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). And on the whole, despite there being challenges to overcome, he grew enormously in unexpected ways.

“Dyslexia has taught me how to push through, to persist, to pick myself up after a perceived failure and to acknowledge that a failure is only a failure if I don’t learn and grow, adapt, and develop through the experience,” Thomas said.

“Do not let dyslexia define you but embrace the creative mind that comes with it and the huge opportunities for growth.”

For students struggling with dyslexia, Thomas recommends the following tips.

  1. When studying and doing homework, allow for more time than you would usually give yourself, to ensure you can overcome some of the initial challenges of the assignment.
  2. If reading aloud is uncomfortable for you, approach your teacher to ask for more support.
  3. If you're working on a big essay, put aside a small block of time each day to complete it, rather than doing it all at the last minute to give yourself the time and space to do your best.
  4. Ensure you keep your diagnosis up to date, so everyone can be working together to support you to achieve your academic goals.
  5. Try to learn to enjoy the academic journey - the highs and the lows. With the right support, you can embrace your uniqueness and strengths.