Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and one of the most common causes of reading difficulties in elementary school children.
Approximately 1 out of every 5 children in the United States struggles with dyslexia!
Some problems displayed by students with dyslexia involve:
- Learning to speak
- Organizing written and spoken language
- Learning letters and their sounds
- Memorizing number facts
- Learning a foreign language
Dyslexia is a life-long condition. With the proper help and early intervention, students with dyslexia can learn to read and write. Most children with dyslexia will need extra help from a teacher, tutor, or therapist specially trained in using a multisensory, structured language approach.
The most effective teaching method for children with dyslexia is a multisensory approach. Multisensory teaching utilizes all the senses to relay information to the students. The teacher accesses the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways in order to enhance memory and learning. For example, when learning the vowel combination “oa” the student might first look at it and then have to trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud. This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a lasting impression for the student as things will connect to each other and become memorable. Some other multisensory activities are:
- Fill an empty cookie sheet with flour or rice and let the child trace letters with their fingers. Shake the tin to start over.
- Fill a large resealable see-through bag with shaving foam. Close it tight and let the child use his or her finger to make letters in the foam.
- Make tactile letters – use glue to stencil letters onto paper or cardboard and cover them with sand or glitter.
- Make alphabet cookies using letter-shaped cookie cutters, or use the cookie cutters with play dough.
- Incorporate fun activities into the learning time. Games and other creative activities get the dyslexic child more involved in the learning process and it gives them a sense of accomplishment.
- Act it out! Dyslexic children are often very good actors and this gives them an opportunity to verbally express their knowledge and “shine.”
- Use objects and manipulatives when teaching. Dyslexics like to feel and touch the concept being taught. This could be as simple as a note card that they hold while reading out loud.
Dyslexic students often struggle with focus and attention. They are easily distracted and often have a hard time listening to a long lecture or watching a long video. Dyslexic children may also struggle with short-term memory deficits, making it difficult to take notes or understand simple instructions.
- Go slowly. Do not rush through a lesson. Give the student time to copy anything written on the board (or remind them to take a picture with a phone). Make sure the dyslexic student understands you before moving forward to the next concept.
- Repeat yourself a lot. Dyslexics often struggle with short-term memory deficits; it is difficult for them to remember everything you said. Repeat instructions, keywords, and concepts so students are more likely to remember what you say, or have time to write it down.
- Give them short breaks often. Sitting and focusing for long periods of time is very difficult for dyslexic children. Move around from activity to activity.
- Give the dyslexic child more time. It takes dyslexic children longer to complete assignments other students may have no problem completing. Allow the dyslexic student more time to take exams and quizzes and to complete homework so they do not feel rushed.
- Time to respond
- Time to process what he has heard
Due to short-term memory deficits in dyslexic students, providing them with visual handouts is extremely beneficial to them.
- Use outlines for lectures
- Have the homework written on the whiteboard daily and remind them at the beginning or end of each class period to take a picture of it on their phones
- Use visual cues, such as asterisks and bullets to highlight important directives or information
- Have reference guides, multiplication charts, alphabet and number lines handy for them to use
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder and Director of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at email@example.com or visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com