In the UK, there are nearly 870,000 children with dyslexia. And with the average child in the UK spending most of their developmental years in the classroom, the responsibility falls on teachers and schools to create a learning system that supports students faced with dyslexia.
In this article, we'll cover an overview of dyslexia and explore teaching techniques for supporting children with dyslexia, including how to liaise with the parent or carer of a dyslexic student.
We hope these tips come in useful for your next teaching role!
It's essential to understand what dyslexia is and how it can affect students. Dyslexia is a learning difference that affects language processing, particularly in reading and writing. Often, children with dyslexia may struggle with phonemic awareness, decoding words, and recognising common sight words. They may also have difficulty with spelling and writing.
As a result, dyslexic learners may experience challenges in the classroom that can impact their academic achievement and self-esteem. It's essential for teachers to recognise that dyslexia is not related to intelligence and that with the proper support and accommodations, dyslexic students can succeed academically and thrive in the classroom.
As a teacher, supporting dyslexic students in the classroom is essential to ensure they receive a quality education and achieve their full literacy potential. Here are some strategies that you can employ to support dyslexia in the classroom:
Using a multi-sensory teaching system is an effective approach when supporting dyslexic students in the classroom. Often, this approach involves engaging multiple senses of the learner (such as sight, sound, touch, and movement) during teaching.
For example, use magnetic or sandpaper letters to support phonemic awareness and multi-sensory methods such as audio learning resources, visual aids, and tactile materials to support phonics and reading/writing.
Since it is challenging for dyslexic learners to swiftly process language due to problems with short-term memory, employing explicit instructions is a great way to support dyslexia in the classroom. Break down complex concepts into smaller, more understandable concepts and provide clear and direct instruction for each piece of information. For example, when teaching phonics, use a phonics programme that teaches students to associate each sound with its corresponding letter.
Dyslexic students can lack confidence, so providing positive reinforcement and praise for effort and progress can help build confidence and motivation. For example, teachers can create a reward system where learners receive stickers, public applause, or other rewards for mastering new sight words or decoding unfamiliar words in reading passages.
With the advent of the internet and computers, supporting learners with dyslexia in the classroom is now easier than ever. Today, there are thousands of assistive learning apps geared towards helping dyslexic children. Assistive technology can help dyslexic children learn effectively. Use Text-to-Speech apps, Speech-to-Text apps, Dyslexia-friendly fonts like OpenDyslexic, and Digital graphic organisers when teaching dyslexic children.
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. Instead of using red pens when correcting spelling mistakes, use a green pen. Nothing can be more demotivating for learners than a teacher's red pen.
Liaising with the parent or caregiver of a child struggling with dyslexia is integral to supporting dyslexia in the classroom. Communicating with the parent or caregiver of a dyslexic student can help teachers collaborate with parents on finding a workable learning strategy. Here are some ways to liaise with parents of a dyslexic child:
So remember, by using multi-sensory teaching methods, employing explicit instructions, providing constant positive reinforcement, using assistive technologies, grading based on effort and ideas, and liaising with parents, teachers can help students with dyslexia overcome learning challenges and achieve academic success.