22 February 2024

Partner with whānau

Dyslexia impacts the whole family. Work with parents to provide practical and emotional support.

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Understand parent perspectives

Understand parent perspectives

Keep in mind that parents and whānau:

  • may be coming to terms with a diagnosis of dyslexia and what it means for their child
  • may need reassurance and evidence that their child’s needs are being met
  • may be anxious about their child’s emotional response to their difficulties, as well as what the school has done or will do to help
  • may have dyslexia themselves and had negative learning experiences during their time at school
  • may be frustrated with school systems and feel their concerns are not being addressed.

What to ask

What to ask

Connect with parents, whānau, and caregivers to understand the strengths and needs of their child.


  • the language/s spoken at home
  • what they do at home to support learning
  • technologies used at home.

Consider the student’s:

  • likes and interests – what they’re good at, need help with, can do independently
  • dislikes – what can upset them, how they express this, calming skills
  • favourites (TV programmes, hobbies, books, songs, sports).


  • parent and whānau hopes and priorities
  • important people in the student’s life
  • best methods and times to communicate with the family
  • professionals working with the family
  • questions they have and support they would like from the school

Value whānau knowledge

Value whānau knowledge

My son is... intelligent, musically talented, responsible, loving, and very good company.

My son is not great at decoding. Actually he is terrible, but he loves to read using his Kindle. He loves to learn and finds ways to learn all the time with his iPad.

Parent of child with dyslexia

Support information sharing

Support information sharing

Communicate and share information in meaningful ways. Demonstrate understanding and support for parents’ concerns.

  • Encourage parents and caregivers to share what they have noticed outside school, including any assessments that might have been done.
  • Build on any programmes or materials used at home, to maximise consistency and support for the student.
  • Develop systems for passing on information about a student’s needs, progress, and next steps.
  • Share information about out-of-school programmes in your area that may help to boost the learner’s self-esteem (for example, classes or groups for kapa haka, music, art, dance or sports).

Useful resources

Useful resources

Information sharing and building learning partnerships. Having conversations with young people and their whanau about their learning and progress

Information sharing and building learning partnerships: Having conversations with young people and their whānau about their learning and progress

Read time: 16 min

Guidance, review questions, activities, examples, and resources to enable deep discussions in your school about information sharing and learning partnerships. Use it to lead conversations with parents and whānau or with staff to review practice.

Visit website


Student profile

A student profile template that is useful for gathering information about the student, strengths, challenges, interventions, accommodations, and assistance.

Publisher: Learning Matters

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Family whanau file2

Family/whānau file

A booklet to help parents of students with additional needs to brief their child’s school.

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Dyslexia: Breaking down the barriers

A booklet for parents providing information on how to help their child at home and where they can access support.

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Download PDF (754 KB)

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Identify student needs and how to provide support”:

Return to the guide “Dyslexia and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Dyslexia and learning

Strategies for action: