According to Dyslexia Action, an estimated one in ten of the population have dyslexia, which equates to more than 6.3 million people in the UK. But despite such a high number, many teachers feel ill equipped to teach students with dyslexia.
In fact, 74 per cent of teachers do not feel satisfied that their initial teacher training provided them with the skills they need to identify and teach children with dyslexia. This sentiment is echoed by parents too, with two thirds believing that dyslexia is not recognised across the system.
So, if you feel as though you could do with more help supporting dyslexic students, here are some top tips.
- Give praise for achievements
Some dyslexic students will already feel at a disadvantage, so criticism of their work is going to do more harm than good. Therefore, always give praise for achievements, no matter how small or trivial they may be.
- Avoid reading aloud
Although reading aloud can do wonders for a child’s confidence and competence, it isn’t a good idea for dyslexic students. If they misread or skip words, it could cause embarrassment.
- Don’t issue or expect more written work
Just because a dyslexic student struggles to put their ideas into writing doesn’t mean to say they are any less intelligent. Come up with other ways to assess their ability and don’t expect to receive masses of written work from them.
- Avoid asking them to copy text
Again, this teaching method can be extremely beneficial for most students but not if they are dyslexic. Instead, provide printouts, highlight key areas, and draw thumbnail pictures to support their learning.
- Accept computer-written work
Handwriting is something most dyslexic students struggle with. So, allow them to submit work created on a computer. Tools like spellcheck can also help to improve their grammar and punctuation.
- Encourage verbal communication
You may find that some dyslexic students will find it much easier to express themselves through speaking rather than in writing. Also, offer them the opportunity to ask and answer questions orally.
- Discuss assignments and activities
Written explanations of assignments or activities might not be fully understood by a dyslexic student. Comprehension is much more likely with discussion and visualisation.
- Provide step-by-step printouts
When it comes to asking for homework, prepare a printout of what is required with numbered steps. They can put this in their exercise book and always have a point of reference.
- Don’t assume they are lazy
People with dyslexia naturally have trouble staying focused with reading, writing, and listening. They must also work harder to produce smaller amounts of work, so don’t confuse this with laziness.
- Add colour and illustrations
Whenever you write something, change colours at the end of each line to help dyslexic students differentiate between sentences and paragraphs. Illustrations can also make it easier for someone with dyslexia to understand what you mean.
With the right approach and attitude, any teacher can help students with dyslexia to succeed at school.