18 Jun How to help a child with dyslexia in the classroom
Today I’m going to talk to you about how to help dyslexic kids in the classroom. I will also share a fact sheet that will give you more tips and information on how to accommodate kids with dyslexia in your classroom.
To start here are some facts about dyslexia.
Dyslexia is NOT a visual problem
Dyslexia tends to get pretty well misunderstood by the public and even by teachers. A lot of people think that dyslexia is a visual problem. Because of this, people usually try to help kids by doing things like using coloured paper or overlays.
Dyslexia is actually a language-based difficulty and most dyslexic people tend to have trouble with phonological awareness, that is storing and mapping sounds in spoken words.
The reason they have so much trouble with reading and spelling is because they can’t map the sounds in spoken words. So it’s also very difficult to map the sounds in written words.
So things like coloured overlays aren’t really going to solve the problem for them.
Working Memory is affected
Some other typical areas that dyslexics tend to have trouble with is working memory. Working memory is the ability to hold information in the mind and work with it at the same time.
It quite often gets mistaken for short-term memory.
A short-term memory task might be if someone told you their phone number and asked you to remember it for a certain period of time.
A working memory task would be if they told you their phone number and then asked you to say it backward.
Working memory gets used really heavily in pretty much every classroom task as students try to remember instructions and remember what they wanted to write.
Working memory is a much greater indicator of academic success than IQ, according to Tracy Holloway.
Processing and verbal processing speed is affected
The other thing that dyslexic people tend to have difficulty with is processing speed and verbal processing speed. They tend to take just a little bit longer to take in verbal information and process it in the brain.
This is not a hearing difficulty. It’s a processing difficulty.
So what are some things we do to help kids in the classroom?
The first thing we can do is to slow down how quickly we speak and pause between sentences. We can speak more concisely, using less information. Condense down what we’re saying so that our explanations last no more than two to four minutes.
Reduce the working memory load
The other thing we can do is try and reduce the working memory load required for a lot of tasks. For things like maths rather than asking them to copy the questions down off the board, you could do something like just give them a photocopied worksheet where they can fill in the answers. There’s one less task that they have to be thinking about in order to get through the math program.
Practise and repeat
For phonological awareness, we can do things like introducing new vocabulary and talking about the sound properties in the words as we do. So instead of just talking about meanings which we quite often do, we introduce a new word and then talk about what the word means we can also break that word into syllables and help the kids to pronounce the word correctly. It is helpful to talk about the initial and the end sound and map all the sounds in between.
You know when someone goes oh, there’s a word I want to use and I can’t quite think of it, but it’s on the tip of my tongue?
They’re usually not saying they don’t know the meaning. They’re usually saying I know the meaning of it, I just can’t quite think of the word.
That’s a phonological difficulty.
We’ve just covered a very brief list of things you can do to help children in the classroom.
To learn more..
You can download my fact sheet that will give you more tips and information on how to accommodate kids with dyslexia in your classroom.
Click here to download
Inspired Education Services has developed a number of online courses that bring you the most relevant, research-based teaching practices. Some of our courses include:
Click the link above to visit the specific course page or click here to go to the online course page.