“Dyslexic kids are creative, ‘outside-the-box’ thinkers. They have to be, because they don’t see or solve problems the same way other kids do. In school, unfortunately, they are sometimes written off as lazy, unmotivated, rude or even stupid. They aren’t.” - Rick Riordan
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that a lot of children struggle with in school. It’s a learning disability that affects them when they're learning to read. Children with dyslexia have problems with reading and writing and struggle to read aloud, recognise letters. However, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia won't affect a child's intelligence.
Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place at the start of October and Dyslexia Awareness Day is the 4th October.
Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 10 people in the UK. More people have dyslexia than you probably thought and it can result in students struggling to read, remember, and pass exams. In this article, we’re going to have a look at how to teach dyslexic students.
How to Know When a Student Has Dyslexia
Dyslexia usually needs to be diagnosed by a doctor before teachers can really do anything about it. Students will tire more quickly than others and it’s the teacher’s job to know how to help them better as dyslexia is a reading disability and it can be hard to tell when a student has it or just struggles to learn to read.
A teacher is also human and needs to be vigilant, to notice when difficulties are arising in certain subjects and, in certain cases, allow students more time during exams. They also need to better understand dyslexia so that they can react better when faced with students who have it.
A dyslexic child tends to exhibit the following:
- Problems with speech (phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, rhyming, etc.)
- Language difficulties
- Reading difficulties (word recognition, comprehension, literacy, and general reading skills such as reading aloud), below average reading abilities and poorer handwriting
- Writing difficulties (remembering the spelling of words, completing writing tasks, replicating the alphabet)
- Difficulties organising themselves in their daily lives
- Reduced auditive and visual memory
Of course, dyslexia isn’t just this, but these are the most common symptoms of it. Of course, each child is different and no two people with dyslexia are the same. The teacher will need to deal with dyslexia on a case-by-case basis.
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The difficulties experienced by a student may cause things to snowball at school and negatively affect them outside of school. A teacher needs to keep an eye on things to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Teachers need to research how dyslexia affects students and how best to deal with it so that they know exactly what to do if they have a student suffering from it. You need to put yourself in their shoes to really understand what they go through and how you can help them.
Dyslexia affects a student's ability to complete a number of common tasks that students are expected to do throughout their schooling. Traditional schooling relies heavily on a student's ability to read, write, and speak. In fact, so much time is spent having students read textbooks, write in exercise books, and answer questions vocally. Imagine if you struggled with all of that!
Teaching students with dyspraxia is equally challenging!
Changing Dyslexic Students’ Behaviour
When you teach dyslexic students, you have to help them to improve their performance at school, their behaviour in class, their self-esteem, and the environment they’re working in. In order to create a positive environment, you may need to take them to one side in order to fully understand what they’re dealing with.
Having dyslexia is far from a holiday and teachers need to be aware that dyslexic students may look like they’re doing very little in class. They struggle to recognise letters and struggling to read may be devastating for the student, especially if the teacher reacts in such a negative way. A dyslexic person isn’t any less intelligent than anyone else in the class, they just need more time for certain activities.
They need more time to go over stuff, to remember it, and to gain some self-confidence so that they’re on a level playing field with the other students in their class. A good teacher should be able to manage the student’s concerns so that they’re not a victim of their learning difficulties.
Behaving in the right way may seem obvious to a teacher, but they also need to adopt the right tone, choose the right words, and say things in the right way to ensure that the student doesn’t lose confidence in their ability to read and write.
The teacher needs to show the student that they’re more than capable. Not every baby bird will learn how to fly by falling from the nest. In fact, if a student loses confidence in their ability to read and write, they'll be less likely to want to read or write and they will suffer even more.
In some cases, they need to be saved from failing. Unfortunately, dyslexia isn’t spoken about enough and a lot of students suffer from it without getting the right assistance.
Autistic students also often suffer in silence for a lack of assistance...
Why not do some research on speech-language pathology and learn more about how dyslexia affects students?
There are different methods and techniques that will help students to learn better than reading. There are also ways to write that they find easier to read and fonts that you could include in your worksheets.
It’s important for both the student and the teacher to be aware of how dyslexia affects them. Knowing how it affects them can help them to better manage their learning difficulty and clear the hurdles that having dyslexia can create for students. Being a teacher is far from a boring job.
Check on Their Progress
Dyslexic students are just like any other student and they’re also not. Even if you’ve done everything we’ve said so far, there’s one thing you still need to do: You need to make sure that you’re regular monitoring the student’s progress otherwise all your effort will be for nothing.
The teacher just needs to regularly check on the student to make sure that they’re keeping up with the rest of their classmates. This can help the student to build up their self-confidence and also see all the progress they’re making. This is also a good thing for the teacher as they can see that the approaches they’re using are working.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to constantly be giving them exams, you just need to make sure they’re showing you what they understand and that they understand everything you’re teaching them. Make a note of how they do in certain activities, how they participate in class, and keep a record of their scores in tests, exams, and homework.
You also need to know how to talk to their parents and make them aware of the progress they’re making and that they need more time when it comes to reading texts. You don’t need to be alarmist about it, either. You just need to let them know that their child has the same potential as any other they just need different approaches in order to access it.
Monitoring is essential for the student, especially in terms of their self-confidence as they need to see their own potential, ability, and progress. This progress needs to be both in terms of their learning difficulties and also the subjects they’re studying.
An experienced tutor would be invaluable in aiding the progress of such students!
Their teacher or tutor needs to act both as a teacher and as a guide, especially given that they’re going to spend most of their childhood in class in front of a teacher. They need to feel supported, which will help them to progress rather than feeling unable to do anything about it.
Thus, when teaching a dyslexic student, you needn’t be alarmist nor defeatist, the teacher needs to provide support that will guide the student towards success.
If you need more information on dyslexia, consider visiting the website of the British Dyslexia Association. Children with learning problems usually just require different developmental teaching strategies to overcome their impairment.
It's important to realise that learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorder, for example, are all things that require teachers to adopt special approaches and there are plenty of resources out there to help teachers and tutors out!
Now read all you need to know about teaching SEN students...