I sent this article to my sons teachers because he himself has Dyslexia. If your kid or student has Dyslexia or any other learning disability then its good to let your teachers know.
Most classrooms are still using traditional methods for teaching students. This usually involves lecturing to the children while they sit and try to stay focused on the information being relayed to them.
Following this, a worksheet of some kind is typically given to the children for them to complete in some limited time frame. Any dyslexic child must sit in horror waiting for the dreaded worksheet to arrive.
There could be nothing worse for them to deal with; new information, a voice droning on and on, then a paper filled with words they probably cannot read, then to make matters worse, a time constraint to make them feel pressurized.
A multi-sensory approach
The most effective teaching method for all children, particularly those exhibiting signs of a learning difficulty, is a multi-sensory approach. In fact, this is imperative for dyslexic students.
Using a multi-sensory approach to teaching would not only alleviate anxiety from the situation mentioned above, but also help their brains absorb the information being conveyed to them.
Some teachers express reluctance to change their ways of teaching, but just making a few changes in the classroom can be so beneficial to the students.
Multi-sensory teaching is exactly as it sounds, utilizing all the senses to relay information to students.
As adults, we go to exhibitions, presentations, even church, where we are exposed to multi-sensory experiences. We hear music as well as voices, see, touch, sometimes taste and smell all kinds of stimulating things at these events.
Why not offer this to our children? It obviously works for advertisers trying to make us purchase their wares.
Dyslexic children are so different from each other that it is important to incorporate all of the senses to give them the opportunity to learn. Their visual or auditory processing may be impaired. A child may pass a hearing or vision test with flying colors, yet not be able to process the information she sees or hears in order to store this in her memory.
It is important, therefore, to utilize all of the child’s senses, particularly touch and movement. The brain may respond to tactile and kinetic memories if it has a problem with visual and auditory ones.
For young children this could involve something as simple as writing letters on carpet so they can feel them with their finger. Making clay letters, singing the sounds of the alphabet, this way they are seeing, feeling and hearing the letters.
The lesson outline
Before a lesson begins with a dyslexic student it is a good idea to briefly go through what areas will be covered. Break down the lessons into smaller units so that the child does not feel overwhelmed with what has to be done.
Dyslexic children often have a problem reading from a shiny white board or overhead transparencies.
If an assignment must be written on the board, and it is not possible to make an individual copy for any dyslexic children in the class, try to leave the information for as long as is necessary for the child to copy it down.
Write each assignment in a different color, or highlight important points in text to draw attention to them. Write homework assignments on the board in the morning, in the same spot each day, if possible leave it there all day. Check with the student to see that they have copied it down and understand it before they leave.
Try to take a minute or two to go through what they need to take home, or remind them of projects due etc.
Often dyslexic children have a problem with organization, this coupled with a memory issue can be very hard on them regarding independent assignments. Assign all the children a “phone buddy” so that they can always call each other for information.
If all the class do this, the dyslexic student will not feel singled out.
Whenever possible try to avoid making a fuss over any modifications or accommodations that are made for the student. Being humiliated by her classmates needs to be avoided. It is important to be aware of the child’s emotions. After possibly years of negative experiences with learning, the child will almost always have issues with self-esteem.
Do not sit the dyslexic student at the back of the class or next to any particularly distracting students. It may be hard for them to concentrate with interruptions, others talking or fidgeting constantly.
Do not put time constraints on the student. It is hard enough for them to concentrate on the work without the added pressure of a ticking clock.
When grading, avoid marking down for mistakes not directly associated with the work. If a student is writing a paragraph when working on punctuation for example, it is not necessary to “red pen” every spelling error, or criticize handwriting. Just let them focus on one task at a time.
The student should be receiving a grade of 85% or better, if not, drop the level of the work down a little, even if this means giving the dyslexic child a slightly modified paper. Success breeds success remember.
Be careful how much homework is assigned. These children are usually working twice as hard as their peers all day long. As is common with some teachers, don’t burden them with huge amounts of homework as well as all uncompleted assignments from school that day.
Break down lessons into smaller, easier to understand units. In all subjects introduce lessons sequentially, and practice.
A dyslexic student may benefit from being allowed to implement any technology at their disposal, such as, calculators, word processors; even audio tape recorders to tape and listen to lectures at their own pace later.
Keep communication open with the student. Ask them if methods implemented are working for them. Ask them what they might think will work.
Be patient. Try to incorporate some things into the classroom that the student excels at. Inject some humor, play non-competitive games.
Give the dyslexic student certificates for effort and other areas of achievement, be it artistry, dancing or manners!