Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Help Students with Dyslexia

Unlike decades ago when little was known about dyslexia, schools today have utilized strategies to integrate dyslexic learners with mainstream classes. What used to be considered a ground for putting a student in the lowest level of learning has transformed into something innovative and emphatic. With understanding of dyslexia, many were given the chance to develop confidence and left school at full potentials.

Reading and the Dyslexics
Reading is an essential skill for learning content areas in all levels of education. Additionally, it can also help students enjoy the joy of reading for entertainment. With the demands of education and literacy programs, students must have the capacity to read and comprehend, spell words correctly, and express views on the written form utilizing correct grammar and usage. 
Students who are dyslexics find themselves suffering both the ridicule and discrimination from peers in school as they have the difficulty acquiring the basic literacy skill. Often, as they felt abused, they tend to keep these things from their parents. Many would fear that they will be punished for performing poorly in school. Often, the students’ inability to perform based on a specific set of measurement can be blamed on laziness or IQ.
By creating a classroom that fosters understanding of individual differences and developing self-confidence, a dyslexic child can feel motivated and comfortable as part of the class. Often, they may get stares because of their inability to follow instructions or read simple sentences. It is then essential that the teacher can identify who among the students in the classroom suffers from dyslexia.

The Teachers
Other than identifying a dyslexic, the teacher must be able to have an in-depth understanding of the learning difficulty and its effects on the child in the classroom setting.  With this knowledge, help for the child is close at hand. This can include making the classroom a nourishing environment where even the dyslexic students feel valued and motivated.  
Perhaps two of the most important things to focus on are the dyslexics’ listening problem and information retention. Students with dyslexia are challenged when it comes to recognizing words and remembering how they are read despite the constant exposure. Generally, they find it difficult to recall even short instructions. Understanding of these problems can help teachers restructure their techniques to address the needs of the student.

Tips on Helping Students with Dyslexia
The following are the ways for teachers to help dyslexic students at different settings/situations:

1.       Make lectures or lessons easily absorbed by breaking them into smaller parts.
2.       Utilize notes and handouts. Some dyslexics have poor visuals so they can learn better when they do not have to struggle copying what was written on the board.
3.       Summarize lessons at the end of the session so they get to hear the overview of the topics discussed.
4.       Let the child sit near the teacher so needs are easily noticed and assistance can be provided promptly.
5.       If they must copy what’s on the board, give ample time for copying to ensure that the child does not hurry and miss more important points.
6.       When given homework, make sure the child writes down the correct instructions and have labeled the assigned book or worksheet. Never instruct verbally.
7.       Provide the child with a list of things to do every day to develop a routine and help them become independent and self-reliant.
8.       Make use of colored chalks or pens to highlight important information listed on the board.
9.       Help the child organize things by encouraging him to use color-coded folders or filers to sort materials used in school.    
10.   Ensure that the child develops friendships with helpful peers who may assists in clarifying homework instructions after class hours.  

Handwriting and Spelling:
1.       Emphasize the role of a good handwriting in academic success and how you expect students to develop good ones.
2.       Provide practice for cursive writing as it is found to be helpful in developing motor skills among dyslexics. 
3.       Provide visual aids on how some words should be written in cursive so the students will have a specific model and identify their mistakes.
4.       When giving a handwriting activity, be sure that the words you choose are understood by dyslexic students.
5.       Praise students for improvement on their handwriting skills to build self-confidence.
6.       When having spelling activities, make sure the words were based on a topic previously discussed. Limit the number of new words in the spelling check.
7.       Give students the time to check the words they have written as dyslexics have difficulty spelling correctly while writing.
8.       When spelling, do not enunciate as if you are chunking the words into independent syllables. This will hinder the dyslexic ability to recognize proper word spelling and spacing.
9.       Include words from the Dolch Word List in spelling as they are simple yet challenging. This include words as simple as “and”, “that” and “soon”.
10.   Make use of the strategy “Look, Cover, Write, and Check”. This can be done by letting them see the word for some seconds, covering the word as they spell it, and showing the word to check if they got it right.

1.       Always make reading fun by integrating things or characters to relate to what was read.
2.       You can model the way sentences should be read and let students repeat.
3.       Introduce new words slowly and with attention. Be sure they can create a mental picture of what the word is.
4.       Do not push the students so hard by making them read beyond what they can do with their skills. Very difficult words will hinder the over-all understanding of what was read.
5.       Don’t embarrass dyslexic children making them read aloud in front of the class. This can be done during the child’s consultation or monitoring schedule with the teacher.
6.       To ensure the child won’t feel like being left behind; assign a part of the selection to be read a day before. This will give the dyslexics time to practice and familiarize the words for the class to hear.
7.        Talk to the parents about the need for assisted reading, so the child can develop interest in reading.
8.       Audio books can be helpful in developing memory and enhancing vocabulary.
9.       Gradually introduce the child to more difficult reading materials.
10.   Make use of pictures to help facilitate understanding of the concepts in the written form.

1.       Assess the child’s level in phonics to identify the start-off point for remediation. Spot the strengths and weaknesses.
2.       Consider having the child demonstrate understanding of the lessons in the spoken form as an alternative assessment. Dyslexics find it challenging to put thoughts on paper.
3.       Have your sessions short but frequent and consistent.
4.       Make parents understand the challenge of their children and encourage them to seek for external assistance.
5.       Make use of the positive reinforcement strategy to motivate the dyslexic children to challenge themselves.

To be considered or branded as “different” can be painful for a child with dyslexia. For the educational and social needs of the child to be fully addressed, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses. When the teacher is aware of the child’s needs and their role in achieving classroom goals, it is easier to choose the proper strategy to make the dyslexic’s integration to the classroom successful.
Despite their difficulty in reading and assigning correct sounds to words or letters, dyslexics have their strengths. This includes speaking skills, spatial and artistic abilities. It is essential that the teacher directs the student to the development of these strengths rather than pushing making them suffer the ordeal of having to do tasks perfectly at their weak points.
The growing demands for teachers to be more flexible have been effective in implementing programs to help dyslexic learners. As frontrunners in the educational system, they have to find and implement methods that answer the students’ needs. Understanding from teachers and parents are needed for dyslexics to succeed. It must be emphasized that they have skills and talents despite their literary skills difficulty. When teachers and parents know where to attack the problem, dyslexic children can be developed to their full potentials and succeed.