In order to learn and be successful in school, students must develop proficient skills in reading and writing. For students with dyslexia, this learning disability can cause them to struggle in these areas. School can become frustrating and may make them feel that they are below their peers. Often, a student’s underachievement can seem like it is due to a lack of effort or carelessness by both the teacher and other classmates. Teachers need to develop a certain level of understanding about dyslexia in order to help these students succeed in the classroom. With different methods and ways of teaching, teachers can begin to help their dyslexic students.
1. Multi-Sensory Teaching
The method of using a multi-sensory approach can be extremely helpful for a child who has to deal with dyslexia. It allows students to utilize multiple senses at the same time including sight, touch, sound, and movement. Not only will dyslexic students benefit from these exercises, but the other students in the classroom can reap the rewards as well.
One idea to use in order to incorporate sight, touch, and sound is to have the students write down their spelling words with a definition and have them recite them out loud. This way, the students are holding the card (touch), looking at what they wrote (sight), and using their auditory skills when they recite the information (sound). Having the students play games and conduct other creative activities is another great way to get dyslexic children more involved in the learning process as they will most likely feel a sense of inclusion.
2. Take Things Slow
For many dyslexic students, they have a hard time focusing on their work and what is being said by their teacher or peers. To help students focus and understand what their tasks are for the day, it is helpful to speak slowly and write some items on the board in front of the classroom. Give the students ample time to write down notes and repeat the most important things to help them remember. Dyslexic students usually have difficulties with short term memory, so repetition and copying down important information can help them to make things stick in their mind.
When giving out homework or tasks to complete in the classroom, it is helpful to break it down into smaller parts. This will alleviate stress from students as they may feel overwhelmed with too many instructions. Because of their short attention span, it is important to divide up lectures and allow the students to take a few short breaks throughout the school day. Using games and other activities in between lectures can also be a great way to split things up.
3. Reading and Spelling
Reading and spelling are two of the main subjects that dyslexic children have a hard time mastering. Being forced to read something out loud to the class can be particularly frightening for these students. It is best to only ask students to read either one on one with you, or give them plenty of time to practice a passage at home before sharing it with the class. This will help the child to feel included as other children are asked to read out loud and will give them confidence in their abilities. It is imperative that students are also only given books that are at their current skill level. Books that are above their level could de-motivate them to read because they have to struggle with many of the words.
For dyslexic students, spelling can be difficult and they may not catch their incorrect spelling without some training. Children should be encouraged to re-read their writing and should be trained to watch for errors that they make often. It also can be beneficial to give those students a slightly different spelling list each week that contains fewer words and which are more structured than random. This can greatly help them improve in their writing skills.
4. Homework and Grading
Dyslexic children are generally more tired by the conclusion of the school day than their peers. This is due to the fact that many things require more thought and do not come as easily. Because they have probably used up their energy during the school day, dyslexic students’ homework is more likely to contain errors. It is important to only assign homework that would truly be beneficial to the dyslexic child. This may require assigning different exercises than are given to the other students, but it is imperative that discretion is used. The last thing a dyslexic student needs is a blow to his or her self-esteem if it is known by the others that there are differences in the level of difficulty for homework.
When grading homework, it is best to give credit not only for achievement but effort as well. This way the student has the chance to get similar grades that the other children receive. Take some time to make positive comments on their work and only pinpoint spelling errors which are appropriate for their skill level. If it is a writing assignment, try to grade mostly on content, not grammar or spelling.
5. Use Other Resources
It is not solely the teacher’s job to help a dyslexic student learn material and grow in their capabilities. There are many other resources which can be utilized to help dyslexic students learn. One resource is to bring in a specialist. This can benefit all of the students and help dyslexic children to feel normal instead of different. Other resources include using games, voice activated software, word processors, and digital voice recording to assist in the learning process.
One of the most important resources to utilize is a tutor. Students can help and encourage each other by reviewing lecture notes, completing lab experiments, and reading out loud to one another. Dyslexic students can get individual time with a tutor and receive support during their challenges.
Dyslexic students should not feel alone in their struggles. With these different methods and resources, teachers and tutors alike can make life easier for dyslexic children and help them develop their skills.
Read more about Dyslexia and how you can help your child.