On Saturday morning, January 25, 2020, dozens of parents and family members of Landmark students attended the Experience Dyslexia Simulation at the Elementary-Middle School. A little bleary-eyed and perhaps apprehensive about what was about to happen, parents grabbed a quick coffee and chatted with other participants prior to the program.
The Landmark Parents' Association sponsors this annual event to help parents understand what their child with dyslexia may be feeling in the classroom. And new this year, due to increasing interest, the LPA offered a sibling track geared toward helping brothers and sisters of students with dyslexia better understand—and empathize with—their siblings' experiences.
While there are no "dyslexia goggles," as Danielle Figueira, director of Alumni and Parent Engagement at Landmark said, the simulation is meant to help people understand the types of frustrations, emotions, and inadequacies many students with dyslexia feel every day.
"Parents and siblings expressed frustration, empathy, appreciation, and a new perspective for their LMK students," Figueira said.
Participants in the Experience Dyslexia Simulation split into groups and rotated through several stations. Each of the stations dealt with difficulties around handwriting, reading, working memory, processing speed, and more. Instructors at each of the stations did not scaffold the activities as one might as a Landmark teacher, rather participants were allowed to struggle, feel pressure, and compare themselves to their peers who were able to work faster and better. Many participants commented on how this experience helped them feel empathy for their child or sibling. They talked about how they will change the language they use with a person who has dyslexia, being more patient and encouraging. One mom was so moved by the experience, she said she was going to have her whole extended family participate in a simulation when they gathered next.