Dyslexia in the classroom is a complex subject to discuss. While teachers go above and beyond to help the kids in their care, there is often not the resources or training available for them to fully understand and support.
Are you a teacher?
Is your classroom lacking resources for kids with special needs because of budget cuts? Are you lacking in training on the subject of dyslexia and other common learning differences? If so, this series of blogs will help you transform your class into a dyslexia friendly classroom with resources that can be used by kids with and without special educational needs.
Before we start, it’s really important that I point out – what works for one child does not necessarily work for another.
As a parent of a child with dyslexia I’ve found that to date, every one of Ella’s teachers has been open to my input about her style of learning and by working together, we’ve found the best learning techniques for her. In my experience, not enough emphasis is put on training teachers on dyslexia in the classroom – which is part of the reason I started on my dyslexia discovery!
So, as part of my dyslexia in the classroom series, I’ve put together this handy list of facts teachers really need to be aware of.
Dyslexia is more than seeing letters backwards.
1. It’s a language-based learning difference
As you will see here in my dyslexia myths article, dyslexia has nothing to do with poor vision; nothing to do with intelligence and absolutely nothing to do with laziness. It is a difficulty with processing written and spoken language. People with dyslexia often have a hard time decoding words (mastering the relationship between sounds and letters). Reading and spelling is affected – but writing and pronunciation may also be affected. It is common for children with dyslexia to have good language comprehension skills when they listen – but struggle with the same skill when they are reading.
2. Dyslexia is more common than many people think.
Did you know, 1 in 5 students have a learning difficulty of some description. That’s a staggering 15-20% of the entire population. These difficulties include reading, spelling, writing and understanding. However with the right support at school, most of these go on to lead very successful and fulfilled lives. Dyslexia should never become a barrier to success or happiness.
Dyslexia is here to stay. It is often hereditary and never a ‘phase’
3. You never grow out of dyslexia.
While it may show up differently at different times during a child’s development, dyslexia is not something that can be ‘cured’. However, this doesn’t mean that kid with dyslexia can’t learn or will never enjoy reading. A teacher’s job after the initial diagnosis continues to be of vital importance as they can help the students cope with the learning barriers they will face throughout their life. With clear and direct instructions, will help each child learn how to learn.
4. Teachers are often the first to spot the signs
Do you know what to look for? Teachers have a very important role as they’re usually the first to spot any potential issues. My advice would be to always follow your gut when it comes to screening students for dyslexia. Regardless of their age, if you feel something is wrong, you should request an assessment. The most common signs are in younger children who are struggling learning to read, but the symptoms can lie undetected.
Learn the strategies that make a difference
5. Multisensory techniques really do help
A child with dyslexia in the classroom needs to be taught using clear, multisensory and methodical methods. It’s important to remember that English is a rules-based language and these rules make sense…(hmmmmm) The one thing a child with dyslexia absolutely does not need is the “eclectic” approach to teaching When kids with dyslexia are taught the structure of the English language through the use of multisensory techniques and in a systematic way, they can and will learn to read and spell. It is however really important that teachers have experience with these approaches. They are effective if taught correctly. So basically, it’s really important that teachers learn the strategies that make a difference.
6. It is often the short, common words that present the biggest challenges
You may be surprised by the words that children with dyslexia struggle with the most. It’s often the short, common words cause the most problems: ‘for’, ‘from’, ‘how’, ‘of’, ‘that’, ‘the’, ‘to’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’. Lists of these seemingly easy words can often be very stressful. For more information on how to teach a dyslexic child to spell, click here. It is important to be aware of this and avoid putting a child with dyslexia on the spot by asking them to read out loud. A better option would be for the whole class to read as a whole, giving everyone a chance. However, it is of course important for you to hear the student read on a one-to-one basis. It is also important to follow up this reading practice with a brainstorming session to practice comprehension and develop critical thinking skills.
Praise, praise and more praise
7. Encouragement could make all the difference
When children struggle with everyday things, it’s possible to be so focused on the mistakes that we forget to give praise when praise is due – for the countless tasks they get right! Always remember to comment when something is funny, or poignant, or written well, or spelt well etc. Getting praise can be the difference between a student trying and them giving up. Find out what they do well – this will make the things they struggle with easier to manage.
A good teacher could make all the difference in the life of a child with dyslexia.
You could be that difference – between a pass and a fail, between confidence and anxiety, between trying and giving up. Be the reason these children love to read and want to learn!
For more information and articles in my Dyslexia in the classroom series, click here for 40 top teacher tips, here for ways to transform your classroom and here to find out just how dyslexia aware you are.