How to Help Dyslexic Children in the Classroom
- Mar 25, 2015
Gareth, a 31-year old graphic designer suffered from dyslexia while growing up. “So for example, while I was growing up, it was really hard to tell the difference between the words 'girl' and 'grill' because the 'ir' and the 'l' kind of overlapped in time unless you spoke really slowly. My teachers were always just flabbergasted that I couldn't tell”, he recounts.
To must of us, this is just a simple difference in pronunciation, but for many dyslexic sufferers like Gareth, the letters do this impromptu jingle rendering them at a loss for comprehension. Did you know that 1.2 million children in the UK suffer from dyslexia? Dyslexia is a reading and learning disability that can also affect other areas of a person's life which include memory, focus and organization.
This problem snowballs when reading is thrust into the limelight. The generic system of education leaves little room for teaching a dyslexic child since language, following instructions and memorization form a large part of the entire process. Therefore, it is quite important to develop a learning system that includes dyslexic students and helps them with education.
Dyslexia manifests itself on students differently. Therefore, it is always recommended to try a combination of methods to cater to the various needs of dyslexic children. Here are a few techniques which you can try out in the classroom.
Lesson plan adaptations
It is important to take into consideration the learning material provided to dyslexic children. Text is a distraction. The documents that you provide to dyslexic students should be devoid of unnecessary texts and contain the material needed only. Short sentences and uncomplicated structure are a must-have for such documents.
Illustrations play a significant role for visual learners. The more you employ pictures to explain the lessons, the better. Dyslexic students often find it easier to read diagrams than text. Background color and fonts affect learning as well. You can download specialized fonts like OpenDyslexic for dyslexic children.
The Mind Research Institute in California has come up with a new system of learning for primary children. It involves interactive games and puzzles which help in the learning procedure. This method employs the brain's natural learning mechanism to promote learning among dyslexic children. According to Mathew Peterson, a neuroscientist who founded this institute in 1998, “This game-based format is a way of guiding them along a path, without having to rely on language.” Game-based learning is a great way to communicate with kinesthetic and visual learners and can actually help them in improving memory.
The current education system engages perception of the brain, but fails to implement action. Children learn best when they are put in a situation that encourages learning by doing. This method of hands-on education also involves learning from mistakes, which is quite effective for dyslexic children.
Classroom instructions and assessment
You can follow an instructional method that involves repetition and introduces new words slowly. Never push a dyslexic child to read a book beyond his or her skill or to read aloud in class. You can reserve this as an after-class activity. It is your responsibility to make reading fun.
Instead of long, written assignments, you can turn the assessments into a project. The projects could include colored objects, images, diagrams and so on. Your assessments can revolve around listening, discussing and other activities to help dyslexic students.
Recommended Read: Top iPad apps to aid students with dyslexia
Changes in the physical environment
You can start off by minimizing distraction in the classroom environment and ensuring that your dyslexic students (if any) are seated on the front row. This way they can concentrate more on the lessons. While writing on the board, you can allot a certain area for writing the date and other daily information. Do not forget to space out your writing adequately. If you are using a blackboard, you can consider using a different colored chalk to highlight the important information.
You can keep a digital and an analog clock side by side in the classroom. This will help children tell the time using whichever clock they find easy to decipher. They can also see how the time looks in the other clock as well.
Having said that, you also need to give dyslexic children their own space to let them identify the way that works best for them. Sometimes, this could prove to be an ideal way to find a solution for teaching them.
What other ways would you like to suggest for helping dyslexic children in the classroom? Share those with us in the comments section below.
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