The time spent in education is a significant part of a child’s development. As a teacher, aiding the growth of a dyslexic learner is a wonderful opportunity. Nonetheless,it can be a challenging task, and it’s important to remember that what makes a dyslexic learner struggle is neither a lack of intelligence nor willfulness.
Dyslexic students have a learning difference.Their brain can’t hold information as efficiently as non-dyslexics, often making their learning a slow, difficult, and at times impossible process.
However,with the guidance of a caring tutor – well-equipped with tried and tested strategies – dyslexic students are capable of learning and becoming high-achievers.
Here are 5 strategies you can apply in your classroom:
1) Multisensory Learning
Multisensory activities help dyslexic children absorb and process information in a retainable manner and involve using senses like touch and movement alongside sight and hearing.
They are not only beneficial for dyslexic learners but also the rest of the class. Engaging in something different and hands-on excites students and heightens engagement.
Examples of multi sensory activities for the classroom include:
- Writing words and sentences with tactile materials,e.g. glitter glue, sand, pasta, LEGO, or beads.
- Physical activities to practice spelling, e.g.hopscotch or jump-rope – the children spell out words when they jump to each square or over the rope. Students work in pairs and take turns to dictate words and spell them.
- Scavenger hunts for letters and words – split students into teams and give them a word. Next, write letters onto notes and hide them around the classroom.The teams must find the letters to construct the assigned word and then glue them together on a poster by cutting out the letters
2) Assistive technology and tools
Pocket spell checkers
The dyslexic learner types in a word how they think it’s spelled, often phonetically, and the spell checker will return a correctly-spelled match. This helps the child strengthen their confidence in both writing and spelling and commit correct spellings to memory.
Aline reader magnifies and highlights the portion of text over which it is placed. This helps dyslexic readers move through a book or worksheet and keep their place easier, especially if they experience ‘swimming’ words: the surrounding sea of text will be less distracting.
Keyboards with coloured overlays and larger letters make typing more accessible to dyslexic students. Some come with multimedia hotkeys that enable the user to play, pause, stop, or rewind audio, which is useful as dyslexic learners often use text-to-speech software when reading and writing.
When purchasing assistive technology for a dyslexic student, consider acquiring several for other students to share. This will lessen feelings of isolation or difference the dyslexic child may feel and prevents other students from feeling envious.
3) Helpful Arrangements
Use a cloze procedure.
Give the dyslexic student a sheet containing key information that you’ll be covering throughout the lesson and blank out key words. The student can then take notes just like others without the stress of trying to copy everything before it’swiped off the board. This helps them focus and commit key information to memory.
Give them plenty of time to complete homework.
If a piece of homework takes a day to complete, distribute it on a Friday so that the dyslexic child has the whole weekend to work on it.
You could also let their parents know what the homework schedule is for the month,so they can start looking at certain topics with their child at home in advance.
Mark based on effort and ideas.
Dyslexic learners may be less skilled than their peers at spelling and grammar. However,if their thought process and creativity shine through the errors and it’s clear they’ve made an effort, this should be praised.
Highlight any major spelling errors using a green pen – nothing screams “WRONG” more than a teacher’s demotivating red pen!
4) Educational Games
The great thing about games designed for dyslexic students is that any learner can benefit from them, so you can easily incorporate them into lessons for the whole class. Nothing will excite your students more than playing games!
There are hundreds of educational apps and games for dyslexic learners available. High Speed Training and Dyslexic.com have a selection of apps which are available. Some excellent places that provide digital or physical games for the classroom include:
- Nessy.com – Nessy offers a range of PC games that help learners understand the sounds that make up words – an area where dyslexics particularly struggle. Their colourful, cartoony style is appealing and engaging to kids.
- Dyslexiagames.com – The workbooks available here are full of puzzles, 3D drawings, and reading activities, tailored to dyslexic learners’ strength: visual thinking.
- Simplex Spelling – If you have iPads in your classroom,the apps in the Simplex Spelling series are an excellent choice. They help build up students’ understanding of phonics and how words are constructed. The series placed 3rd in the 2012 Best App Ever Awards – Best Elementary Student App.
5) Working together with parents
Meet with dyslexic students’ parents regularly to discuss how their child is doing and the strategies you’ve applied in the classroom. The child’s parents can also update you on what methods they’ve been using at home and what’s been successful.
Thisis important because, ultimately, no two dyslexic children are alike and thereis no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. By sharing knowledge about ongoing progress, both you and the parents can work together to find learning methods thats uccessfully aid the dyslexic student’s learning.