Course a ‘game changer’ for kids’ learning support

Invercargill mother and teacher Serena Driver with her son Josh who has a specific learning disability.

A COURSE to help parents and teachers support children with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities (SLD) is being held in Invercargill.

The two-day Introduction to SLD (ISLD) course would give insights into what it was like to have a SLD and why it occurred.

It would also offer practical strategies to help learners in the classroom and at home.

Invercargill mother and teacher Serena Driver said the course was a game changer for how she supported her son Josh.

“I knew that he processed language differently but how he processed it was a mystery.

“That was until I attended the ISLD course. It was informative and very practical. I left the course being able to implement my new learning straight away which made an instant difference.

“I had to change my approach to teaching all the aspects of literacy, but I also had to change my expectations. And it was that change of expectations that made the biggest difference,” she said.

“With those expectations changed, Josh was able to share his learning stress-free with hardly any need to constantly write things down.

“It also made a huge difference to our life at home. We became more aware of what he was able to process in terms of instructions, directions, as well having a conversation.

“We used to fill the gap when he spoke because he didn’t have the words, but after attending the course I realised that he did know the word but was having trouble locating it in his mind. We now give him time to find that word and that has boosted his speaking confidence and cemented a lot of learning in the process.

“We approach the learning differently now because we understand how Josh processes new learning, how much cognitive effort it takes for that processing to take place, and how systematic and explicit the teaching has to be.”

SPELD NZ, a not-for-profit organisation, wants to help more Southland families and educators to nurture struggling learners to success.

SPELD executive officer Jeremy Drummond said the organisation had supported children and adults struggling with SLD for almost 50 years.

Help included providing diagnostic assessment, specialised one-on-one tuition and training ing educating families, caregivers, teacher aides and teachers.

Support services for SPELD in Southland had never been more stretched, she said.

“The demand for our training has grown exponentially especially since the rollout of new learning support co-ordinators throughout the country.

“Our two-day course is an ideal starter for those who know little about dyslexia or SLD.”

Those with teaching qualifications could do further, mainly online, training to become SPELD NZ teachers. “We do have a shortage in Southland, particularly in Invercargill, and are keen to boost our numbers,” Mrs Drummond said.

It was estimated 10% of the New Zealand population had a specific learning disability such as dyslexia.

The course would be held on September 17 and 18.

Thanks to Community Trust South, SPELD NZ could offer subsidies to Southlanders with teaching qualifications to help partially cover the cost of attending the ISLD course.

  • To find out more on SPELD NZ’s ISLD training, go to

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