From time to time, your child may be assigned to work with other children to complete a group project. While it is good for children to learn to work cooperatively, it is often the case that one or two children in a group end up doing most of the work and feel frustrated and resentful of those who cannot contribute much to the effort. Of course, your child with dyslexia is likely to be the one who bears the brunt of that resentment.
The group project is a good occasion to help your own child recognize her particular strengths and talents and to help the other children develop a greater appreciation of those abilities. Encourage the children to assign roles and responsibilities that will build on each of their talents. For example, one group of sixth graders were assigned to prepare a class presentation on African history. Two highly verbal girls in the group immediately divided up topics and got busy researching and writing their own sections. They quickly became frustrated with the third member of their team, a boy with dyslexia who seemed to take little interest in the project, and shared their anger with a parent. The mom asked what kind of things the boy was interested in, and was told that he liked music and art. The mom then asked, “Did the people in Africa have music? What kind of instruments did they use? What kind of artwork did they create?” The group quickly recognized that music and art were indeed important aspects of understanding African history, and the boy was assigned to find books with African artwork at the library and to create music for their class presentation. He quickly became the most enthusiastic member of their team and their colorful class presentation, presented to the background beat of an African drum, was a huge success.
If your child is tense and frustrated while doing his homework, take a break. You may have to structure homework sessions to include frequent, short breaks for your child. Have him do something physical, like stretching or bouncing a ball, to relieve pent-up energy.
These same principles can be used in almost every context. It will help your child for you to find ways to express his talents, and it will help his peers to realize that there is more to learning than simply reading and writing about topics. Of course the book learning is important, too, but the group project should be an occasion for exploring other ways for your child to contribute.