Tips for supporting dyslexia in the classroom
Author Maria Buttuller
Date 6th Jun 2023
It is estimated that 10% of children in the UK have dyslexia, which suggests that in a class of 30 children, three children will be dyslexic.
With dyslexia affecting such a high percentage of the population, it’s important to consider the obstacles that children with dyslexia can face and adapt lesson plans to suit their needs.
The good news is, a big difference can be made with just some very small adjustments:
Multisensory learning and other classroom aids
One of the most successful methods of helping dyslexic pupils is multisensory learning. This takes typical lessons such as spelling and writing and turns them into manageable exercises. For younger children this could include making words out of different materials including beads, pasta and building blocks.
Different equipment can also aid learning; popular choices are colourful keyboards with enlarged keys and letters to make typing more accessible. The different colours help students differentiate the letters and make typing considerably easier.
Pocket spellcheckers, colour overlays, pens that turn written words into audio and voice recorders can also be useful learning aids to introduce to the classroom.
Visual tracking is an important key sub-skill of reading. In order to read, we need to be able to follow a word or a line, and often refer backwards to look for context cues. Spot the difference is a great way to teach and practice this skill as it involves tracking and referring back to the previous picture. This is also a really effective way to encourage motivation in children with dyslexia to lead them into reading.
The use of miscue analysis
Miscue was first coined in 1969 by Goodman. When reading a text, this is when a person says a word which is different from the word on the page. Goodman explained how to see mistakes made by the student as a positive, formative tool: what the child reads aloud can really inform us about their current reading and phonetic level. We can then use this to create effective and specific next steps, tailored to the understanding and needs of the child. For example, when a student misreads ‘move’, for, ‘more’, we can see that they have a firm grasp of the split digraph ‘o-e’ yet need more support with differentiating between consonant sounds. This helps to transform ‘mistakes’ into a positive aspect of the learning process.
10 helpful things to know and do for dyslexic students in the classroom
- use oral directions or simplified written directions
- allow students more time to process their response to a question or task. Students with dyslexia may need a longer time to process information
- where possible, provide extra time on assignments and a quiet place to work/test if needed
- provide, in advance, an outline of class lectures, a copy of class notes, organisers, and/or study guides
- try and break assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks
- reduce the amount of words on a spelling list
- do not require a student with dyslexia to read aloud in class, unless the student volunteers to read
- use visual presentations, PowerPoint projects, poster boards and discussions to help a child participate without feeling embarrassed or fearing failure. Visuals really help to secure ideas in the working-memory
- provide worksheets for organising information for writing
- assignments. Have templates with different types of writing frames and mind maps that students can choose from when preparing a writing assignment.
- try and avoid penalising a student for spelling or provide a separate grade for content and one for spelling
Remember, dyslexic students thrive in a classroom environment that:
- has varied means of assessment (projects as well as written tasks)
- looks at the individual child and what he/she can add to the class
- gives credit for class participation, homework, and general effort.
Every child deserves to reach their full potential and identifying and supporting dyslexia early on is one of the keyways to ensure that all pupils can thrive in every classroom.
For further support you can enrol on our supported online course and discover how to meet the individual needs of pupils with dyslexia through your own classroom interventions.
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