Teaching children with dyslexia, as a general teacher, can be a Herculean task. And for that reason, we have suggested some strategies to help you positively support dyslexic students in your classroom.
Introduce multi-sensory activities
Multi-sensory activities help children with dyslexia to assimilate and process information with ease while using their senses—such as touching, moving, sight and hearing—to learn better. These activities are not only beneficial to dyslexic students; but also to other children.
Some examples of multi-sensory classroom activities are:
- Use of physical materials such as glue, sand, paste, or beads, for writing and spelling words.
- Physical spelling exercises like rope-jumping helps children to write words by jumping in every square or line.
- Scavenger hunts for letters and words – divide students into teams and give them words to track down. You can also write letters on sheets of paper and hide them in the classroom. The students must team-up to find the letters that make up the word and then glue them together on a poster board.
Use Technology and Support Tools
Using technology and support tools for students with dyslexia can be both hands-on and fun, making learning more entertaining. Here are some tools to use for your dyslexic students in the classroom:
- Spell Checker
You can prompt a student with dyslexia to write a word the way he or she thinks it is spelled, then use the spell checker to make unaggressive corrections. This helps the dyslexic child to develop confidence in writing and spelling and will eventually keep the correct spelling in mind.
- Colour keyboard
Colorful keyboards make typing more fun and focused for students with dyslexia. Some keyboards have features that provide shortcuts to play, pause, stop, or scroll through sounds, which is useful because dyslexic children are comfortable with digital reading programs while reading and writing.
However, if you purchase or allow assistive technology for a dyslexic student, then you should consider permitting such programs for other students. This reduces the feeling of isolation that a child with dyslexia may feel and prevents jealousy among other students.
Extend time for assignments for children with dyslexia
Children with dyslexia require extra time to comprehend lessons. So if it takes a whole day to complete your assignment, you can give a student with dyslexia three days to complete his/her homework.
You can also initiate a monthly homework schedule and inform parents about the schedule to enable them to discuss some topics with their dyslexic children at home.
Grade children with dyslexia based on effort
In a general class setting, students with dyslexia may be less qualified than their peers in spelling and grammar. However, if their thought process and creativity are enhanced, and it is clear that they have made an effort, this is commendable.
You can mark the most crucial spelling mistakes with a green pen – nothing shouts “YOU ARE WRONG!” more than demotivating red pens. Grading them based on their efforts also boosts their confidence and increases the zeal to participate during class activities.
Include Educational Games in your teaching plan
Educational games can be beneficial for dyslexic students and general students. There are educational applications and games for kids with dyslexia. Examples:
Nessy.com – Nessy offers a wide range of computer games that help students understand the sounds of words, an area where dyslexia is particularly difficult. The colorful cartoon style is also exciting and fun for children.
Dyslexiagames.com – The workbooks here are full of puzzles, 3D drawings, and reading exercises for children.
Always communicate students’ progress to their parents
It is important to regularly report the progress of students, especially dyslexic students, to their parents. This will enable the child’s parent to stay up-to-date on which methods of learning can be used for the child at home. Thus, increasing the child’s responsiveness and performance.
One of the best things to do for your students is to instill the culture of ‘helping hands and togetherness’. Teach both dyslexic and general students how to build good relationships amongst their peers. Introduce activities that support the collaborative culture—sharing ideas, working together, etc—to make them feel more confident in the classroom.
Think-pair-share is a popular collaborative activity and can easily be adapted to include some movement too in the form of HuSuPuWu! This activity will not only help learners share ideas but also allow for differentiated thinking time. Ask your young learners a question you want them to respond to, give them thinking time and tell them to put their hand up when they are ready to talk (Hu).
Encourage them to look around, find another person with their hand up and stand up (Su) to walk over and pair up (Pu). And together they share ideas before going back to their place and writing up their ideas (Wu). This will be beneficial for students who need more time to process, get confirmation, or support.
Stay positive with children with dyslexia and build their self-esteem
Children with dyslexia are prone to low self-esteem because of the difficulties they encounter in school or within their neighborhood. So your disposition as an educator is crucial in boosting their confidence. Recognize their little achievements and efforts and celebrate them openly. Be empathetic and positive while dealing with them. This will make you trustworthy and help them confide in you when necessary.
In all, a one-size-fits-all approach—which is the traditional teaching pattern—will not benefit you or your student’s future. You need to diversify your teaching approach. And while adopting these tips mentioned above, you can also introduce your methods, as far as it guarantees the growth of a dyslexic student.