Supporting Students with Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Teachers Need To Know
Education is an essential component of childhood development. Being a teacher, you’re an integral part of a child’s growth. If you are teaching a dyslexic child, you are even more crucial. It can be challenging, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity—for you and the student.
The learning process for a dyslexic child is different. Their brain is not able to efficiently grasp information like a non-dyslexic child, making their learning process slower and feeling almost impossible at times.
If you are a tutor or assignment helper for dyslexic children, you need to handle them with care. By following some best practices and helpful strategies, they can learn like other kids and experience great achievements in the classroom and beyond.
The following tactics will help dyslexic children succeed in class and build skills for future success anywhere.
In the classroom
- Having a lesson outline is essential. There should also be a list of lessons taught after an assignment is completed. This helps dyslexic students retain information better.
- Make sure dyslexic students have the appropriate books and worksheets for homework, and then review their completed assignments to make sure they have adhered to lesson requirements.
- Have dyslexic students write down the phone numbers of their friends or classmates on the first page of their homework book (or provide them with sticky post-it notes if you don’t want them to mark the book) so that if any doubts or questions arise, they can remember to ask them for help. You can also provide a list of helpful websites for reference.
- Make dyslexic students write down daily classroom activities and messages. Do not rely on them to memorize instructions.
- Give dyslexic students a daily routine and create a checklist for them to follow. This will help build their self-reliant capabilities.
- Teach dyslexic students how to use folders and dividers to keep their work organized and accessible. This will teach them organization skills and habits.
- Divide difficult tasks into smaller pieces of work to make information easily memorable.
- If you believe that a dyslexic student has a poor memory, give them handouts and notes.
- Seat dyslexic children closer to the teacher’s desk so that the child receives help faster.
- Structure a repetitive reading scheme for dyslexic children. New words should be introduced slowly so that a child will develop self-esteem and confidence when they read.
- Don’t have dyslexic students read a book that’s higher than their current skills. Otherwise, they will lose motivation. Students gain motivation when you don’t place too many high demands, plus they’ll enjoy reading.
- Don’t try to make dyslexic students read aloud in class, even if other students do the same. Have them read alone or with another adult (or with you). Alternatively, give the child a pre-selected reading material and make sure they’ve practiced reading it at home before reading aloud in the classroom.
- Provide dyslexic students with books to read alongside an adult. This will boost their enthusiasm for learning. Story tapes will also help them improve their vocabulary while providing entertainment.
- Above all, make reading fun!
Poor spelling skills are not a sign of low intelligence.
- A dyslexic child will not learn to spell correctly with the same techniques used for other non-dyslexic children. They’re special children and require special attention. All pupils should have a systematically structured exposure to patterns and rules of language, but more so for a dyslexic child.
- You should have a structure of words that you teach the dyslexic children in your class. When you give the whole class spelling rules, make a weekly shortlist of words from their spelling structure to test them with. This will do them more favor than random words. You can add 3 or 4 new words to their spelling structure weekly. This will help them get better at their free-writing skill.
- Dyslexic children can be trained to avoid spelling errors when they write, which is better than teaching them to correct misspelled words.
- Although many dyslexic children are good at math, it is estimated that about 90% of dyslexic children have difficulties with mathematics. Check if they understand basic methods of calculating—addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Only when they know how to perform basic calculations should they apply math skills to problem-solving lessons. These students might also have difficulties with complex calculations and long math formulas (e.g., algebra and long division).
- Encourage students to develop the habit of cross-checking their answers. Is the answer ludicrous, sensible, or impossible?
- When mental arithmetic is necessary, make the student jot down the appropriate mathematical signs and critical numbers from the question.
- Encourage dyslexic students to verbalize the steps of answering a problem.
- Teach dyslexic students how to use the multiplication table and encourage them to verbalize how it’s being used.
- Encourage the usage of a calculator and make sure they know how to use it. You can also show them how to estimate their answers. This allows them to properly proofread their work while they’re trying to solve a problem.
- Place keyword definitions in locations where they are easily accessible, such as the inside cover of their book or using a card index system. This will allow students to reach it easily for reference.
- Make them rehearse mathematical vocabulary regularly with kinesthetic or multisensory methods.
- If there’s a decimal point, mark it in red ink to help a dyslexic child notice it easier.
Copying from the blackboard
- If lots of information are written on the board, make the wording distinct by using chalks or markers of various bright colors. If you’re using just two color chalks, draw the horizontal lines separating the row or words alternatively with the color chalks to mark a distinct difference.
- Make sure that you space your words accordingly. Words and sentences that are close together make readability difficult for dyslexic students.
- Make sure students don’t need to write information quickly. Also, don’t clear the board until they finish writing.
To be effective in teaching and reaching out to a dyslexic child, it’s essential to see the person as a competent student with a unique set of challenges. This allows them to learn and for you to teach them, according to their educational needs.
Tobias Foster is a professional writer, journalist, and editor with over 5 years of work experience and big ambitions.