Most of the dyslexic children and teenagers (learners) face difficulties in coping with the traditional curriculum and teaching styles focusing on the use of visual and audio senses. This is due to their difficulties with either or both of these senses. Some of them may have difficulties with tracking, visual processing, seeing the words become fuzzy, auditory memory or auditory processing. Nevertheless, with proper teaching strategies, they can achieve their true intellectual potential.
Below are some of the recommended teaching strategies for dyslexic learners.
Multi-sensory teaching approach
One of the most effective teaching strategies is using multi-sensory teaching approach. This approach helps them to learn also through tactile and kinetic sensations. For example, in helping a dyslexic child to have breakthrough on the confusion over the direction of ‘b’ and ‘d’, multi-sensory approach means the child has a visual memory from seeing the letter, an auditory memory from hearing the sound it makes, a tactile memory from writing the letter in the air, touching the sandpaper letter, forming letter using the manipulative such as play-dough, clay or plasticine and a kinetic (body movement) memory from having draw the letter really large on the carpet.
My personal experience with an 8-year old boy learning his spelling list using multi-sensory approach:
- I typed out the list of spelling with bigger Century Gothic font size 18
- I cut out individual word in strip
- He did his brain gym activities i.e. cross crawl and thinking cap to help in his spelling
- I showed him a word at a time, I read and he follow. For example ‘amazing’, ‘computer’, ‘carpet
- I explained that these words have two or three syllables
- We read a few time, trying to hear the beginning sound or finding similarity in word e.g ‘carpet’ as in ‘car’ + ‘pet’ and identify where the syllables are
- I helped to cut out the words according to syllables i.e. ‘com’ ‘ a’ ‘ ma’ ‘pu’ ‘car’ ‘ zing’ ‘ter’ ‘pet ‘ and mix them around
- I asked him to find the syllables that form the word e.g. computer
- He searched and matched the word then he applied glue to the cut syllables and pasted the complete word on a blank piece of paper.
- After completing the pasting task above, I asked him to write the word one by one on a sand tray.
- I asked him to write again on another blank piece of paper
- When he completed his spelling, he did his own self check by looking at the pasted piece and his written piece.
I noticed he could write more correct spelling this way than mere memorising the word.
Teachers play very important role in helping dyslexic learners in the classroom. It is vital that some classroom adaptations are implemented to enable to learner to maximize their learning and building self-confidence as follows:
a) Preview and Summary of the day lesson.
b) Making copying from board achievable with clear writing and sufficient time to complete the task.
c) Giving photocopied assignment sheet to avoid error in copying.
d) Sitting position nearer to teacher or a helpful classmate.
e) Preparing learners in advance if he/she is required to read aloud in class to avoid embarrassment and allow successful experience.
f) Breaking tasks down into small, easily-remembered pieces of information.
g) Reading and marking a dyslexic learner’s work for content and meaning instead of concern over correct spelling.
h) Giving them sufficient time to copy homework and helping them to check works and dates are correctly written down. If necessary, a shorter assignment may be recommended to be given to them with approval from parents and school.
i) Organizing non-competitive games and activities help to take pressure off dyslexic learners and allow them to enjoy learning in a relaxed atmosphere.
j) Providing positive worksheets and exercises which are attractive with pictures, diagram, colourful and ‘failure free’. This allows them to receive a mark of 10/10, and move on positively to the next piece of work.
Giving additional one-on-one support in school
This special time out allows the learners to work comfortably at their own level and to succeed. It is important that parents be informed of the child’s improvement and activities where they could help to follow up at home. Special effort in awarding certificates for good effort during the support session is also vital.
There are many other teaching strategies could be recommended. Nevertheless, it is vital to remember to allow dyslexic learners to learn new skills, new spellings, new words etc at a very gradual pace, and in a context in which they can succeed. Therefore, in order to really help dyslexic learners, it is necessary to take conscious effort to focus on the strengths while working on their weaknesses and helping them to be successful in every attempt of learning and practice; with lots of laughter, praise and encouragement throughout their journey in learning.