Georgina Smith-Author of CodeBreakers

Have you ever considered how powerful your thoughts can be and how they can influence your own day? Now imagine your students’ day or your own child’s day, particularly if they are struggling in school with literacy. We can’t begin to imagine the impact that the power of negative thoughts can have.

For many years I have ‘suffered’ with my own negative thoughts. Personally, I have had a battle with anxiety for over 20 years. In some parts, I feel I haven’t achieved what I would like to have done because of it.  On many other levels it’s been a gift, it’s helped me to empathise with students of all ages who have walked through my door.

I have always viewed my experience of ‘mental health’ as an ‘illness’. And trust me, I’m not demeaning mental health problems or dismissing it when I say the next thing, as I have been in some dark places and desperate for help.  I’ve realised seeing myself as being ‘ill’ made me think ‘ill’. Made me think negative.

You may wonder why I’m making this personal statement and possibly for some they may view a professional person as ‘weak’ by having anxiety. However, I know many of you will have experienced it to some degree or another and I know many of you may still experience it for the first time in the future.

I have engaged in ‘therapy’ for many years. I’m now feeling determined to move my life forward. I actually feel ready to ‘kick the habit’.

The reason I’m sharing this is; yes, there are many professionals in the workplace who are experiencing anxiety, as the workload in education grows. Parents reading this are no doubt full of anxiety regarding their child’s future and gaining support. My main reason is the child you are working with and your child at home.

Pete Cohen

I’ve been extremely lucky to now have the support of international life coach, mentor and motivational speaker, Pete Cohen.  He has mentored top athletes and I have asked for his support to help me work on ‘anxiety’…notice I didn’t say ‘my anxiety’…I’m not owning it anymore. Pete is also supportive of the message I wish to share through CodeBreakers.  I’m embarking on a path of discovery about human behaviour and the way we respond, the way we think.  Already, I can see so many things that resonate and can help my students, your students and your child at home.  I’ll be writing a series of blogs about ‘Mindful Dyslexia’.  This won’t just be about mindfulness related to how we/students learn but how we/students ‘think’ and how we/students ‘respond to thoughts’, especially those of anxiety or negativity.

What if we can change how students or your child thinks and responds, imagine what positive outcomes there could be. This is not limited to school age students but mature students in FE and HE and even yourselves.

I’ll end this introduction with a phrase, “Thinking creates feeling and feeling creates thoughts”. I can’t claim to have coined this. If you’d like to follow my voyage of discovery and my thoughts on how this resonates with individuals experiencing anxiety related to learning, check my blogs with ‘Mindful Dyslexia’ tags. Pete has given me the permission to share his podcasts, I’ll share those in my future articles. Take some time to listen if you’re interested to learn more.

I’ve been passionate about ‘mental health’ issues since experiencing my own difficulties. I work in the field of Dyslexia because my own father has experienced literacy difficulties and see the impact it has, not just on education. I have worked with children in schools, adults in the workplace and education and have seen how Dyslexia can impact upon mental health.

Through our SEN Jigsaw Conference we try to cover all aspects of learning difficulties and this year I’m please to announce we will be discussing anxiety related to learning.  My friend and co-organiser John Hicks will be discussing ‘Dyslexia and Self Esteem’. John also worked with the British Dyslexia Association to conduct research into The Human Costs of Dyslexia Survey.

We welcome Jacqueline Gray leading a workshop on ‘Giving Children Coping Strategies to Deal with Dyslexia’. In addition, Education Psychologist Dr Ian Millward will lead a workshop on ‘Learning Habits of Children with Dyslexia’ which will cover aspects of how children view themselves as learners.  We hope you can join us.  We offer a full day event for parents and professionals, cover all aspects of SpLDs, see our full line up here