A dyslexia friendly classroom will boost confidence, encourage success and help children with learning difficulties build up their self-esteem. Transforming a classroom means adapting teaching methods, using a range of resources and developing new strategies.
An inclusive classroom is so important as all students should have the opportunity to access the curriculum and have the right to achieve. All it takes is a few small changes and you could transform your space. It is vital for every child in your class to acquire the skills needed to become independent and to take responsibility for their own learning. Remember, good practice for dyslexic students is good practice for all students. Be aware of the child’s desire to not stand out and to be the same as their peers and try not to draw attention to areas where they may struggle.
Below is a concise list of ways to transform your classroom to become dyslexia friendly:
Classroom organisation /equipment
- Good organisation, a clutter-free space which promotes less noise and distractions
- Use a variety of visual, auditory and kinesthetic (the process of ‘doing’) activities for every lesson
- Ensure children with dyslexia have easy eye contact with the teacher
- Colour code storage systems – different colours for each subject
- The class should have plenty of visual resources such as pictures, diagrams, charts etc. within easy reach
- Make sure there are plenty of pencil grips with easy reach as well as specialised paper such as highlighted paper, double-lined, squared and graph paper. These should be freely available without the need for a child to ask for them
- Writing boards should also be within easy reach
- A wide selection of reading books – of ALL abilities should also be available
- Whiteboards are great for kids who have dysgraphia to practice their writing and fine motor skills
- Label storage and resources with pictures as well as writing
- Ensure your class has a positive view of dyslexia – view it as a learning difference, not disorder
- Display reading and spelling strategies and revisit them at the start of every year
- Use a selection of ways to present work such as mind maps, video, diagrams, storyboards, orally and with charts.
- Praise, praise and more praise
- Use ICT as a multi-sensory tool
- Make sure all children have time to think and time to talk
- Use a buddy system – for example, if a dyslexic child has great ideas, pair them with a child who is strong at writing but weaker at creativity.
- Encourage all children to play an active part in class discussions and to take risks
- Plan for movement during the lesson to help maintain concentration.
- Make sure all students face you as you talk through instructions
- Use flashcards for tricky words, days of the week, months of the year etc.
- Ensure easy access to colour photocopies, coloured wallets/folders, and coloured plastic sheets for use with white paper/reading books for those who need them.
- Teach older children how to revise/how to study with clear, simple instructions
- Introduce role models such as Einstein, Richard Branson and Hollywood celebrities with dyslexia. (Find the most famous people with dyslexia here)
- Patience is vital when working with a child with dyslexia. Performance will be inconsistent and progress often slow in some areas. They may also be more inclined to forget or lose items.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular activities in areas where the children succeed
When preparing worksheets and written resources
- Make sure the layout is clear and uncluttered
- Use shorter sentences rather than longer ones and high frequency words instead of less common ones
- Choose shorter words as longer words place more demands on hearing memory
- Speak slower
- Use active verbs rather than passive ones
- Choose positive statements rather than negative ones which are harder to process
- Use different colours to highlight important information
- Use a dyslexia friendly font. Download this free dyslexia font here or use a sans serif font with spaces between letters.
Use a selection of teaching styles so that every child, regardless of their learning style, is able to understand:
- Kinesthetic (physical)
- A combination of all three.
Kinesthetic learners respond best to:
- Designing and creating – hands-on activities
- Role play and drama
- Vocabulary that suggests touch/movement such as:
- Feel Make contact
- Grasp Touch
- Solid Catch up with
Visual learners respond best to:
- Graphs, charts and diagrams
- Mind maps, wall charts, posters
- Vocabulary that has a visual theme:
- See View Appear
- Clear Picture Vivid
- Sharp Imagine Show
- Focus Look Saw
Auditory learners respond best to:
- The spoken word
- Rhythm and rhyme
- A varied tone of voice
- Audio tapes
- Sound effects
- Vocabulary the suggests auditory activities such as:
- Listen Tell
- Ring Sound
- Silence Hear
If you would like any more information or advice about how to transform your space into a dyslexia friendly classroom to make it accessible, you can contact me here.