Approximately one out of every ten people in Australia are dyslexic. Teachers are likely to have 1-3 children with Dyslexia in every class. Dyslexia is an invisible disability, a lifelong neurological problem that has no negative impact on the child’s intelligence. Many people with Dyslexia are gifted.
Knowing how to teach a child with Dyslexia is essential for both the child and the teacher. Dyslexia is considered by the Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA) to be a persistent difficulty with reading and spelling for which there is no cure.
According to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (NITL), half of the Bachelor of Education training courses for teachers in Australia devote less than 5% of the four-year curriculum to the teaching of reading. Combine this with a child’s learning disability, and it can lead to a very frustrating time for both student and teacher.
Time and energy is a finite resource for all teachers and by learning how to adjust their instruction methods to help children with Dyslexia learn both students and teachers benefit. Keep reading to learn some great tips for the classroom.
Signs of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a neurobiological learning disorder. The DSM-5 Fact Sheet for Specific Learning Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association indicates the following difficulties for someone with Dyslexia:
- Persistent difficulty in arithmetic or mathematical reasoning skills, reading and writing
- Slow, inaccurate, and effortful reading
- Poor writing skills and writing that lacks clarity
- Difficulty remembering number facts
- Academic skills that are below average and not related to any other developmental, neurological, sensory, or motor skill disorders to the degree that it interferes with their academic achievement, occupational performance, or daily living skills
Difficulty with letters and words often confuses a person with Dyslexia. Children may not be able to sound out new words, have difficulties writing down notes, and are unable to copy words from the board. They may also have trouble with spelling and show frustration when trying to read or write.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1992 protects people with Dyslexia from discrimination. It also provides children with the right to equal learning.
How to Teach a Child with Dyslexia
A child’s reading reaction rate is an indicator of Dyslexia, with them taking approximately 30% longer to react. A child with Dyslexia often shows talent in other areas but struggles academically due to their poor reading skills.
One way of determining if a child in your classroom has Dyslexia is through the use of a screening tool. Once you confirm a child is likely to have Dyslexia, you can teach them in a way that allows them to learn.
1. Boost Their Self-Confidence
Children with Dyslexia are struggling and may feel inadequate, especially if their peers are noticeably beyond them in academic accomplishments. Provide the child with opportunities in which they can be successful and praise even their small achievements.
Those achievements do not need to be academic. Acknowledging small things such as showing kindness to another student, good sportsmanship, or pushing their chair in neatly at their desk can boost their morale.
Do not ask the child to read out loud. They will be nervous and may skip or incorrectly read words, causing them embarrassment. Publically failing at reading will only cause further frustration for the child.
Do not refer to them as “lazy” if they are unable to complete tasks. They are most likely one of the most hard-working students in the class but are unable to produce quality work at the same rate as others. Notice them for their accomplishments, not their inability to achieve success.
2. Expect Less Written Work
Because of the dyslexic child’s disability, reading and writing are extremely difficult. They may not be able to complete the same level of written work as other students in the classroom.
The child with Dyslexia will likely need additional time for assignments or need assignments that have been altered to accommodate their skill level so they can be successful in their completion. The ability to finish tasks will boost their self-confidence.
Copying down an assignment written on the board or writing down instructions given orally will be difficult for the child to accomplish accurately. Provide a printout of homework to the child discretely or place it in their book for reference.
If children in the classroom are expected to take notes, provide the child with a printout, they can highlight or make marks on regarding important information.
3. Accept Homework Printed on a Computer
Handwriting for a child with Dyslexia can be torture. Allowing them to type their homework on a computer and use a spell checker will provide them with a way to be successful. The child will be able to present a paper that is neat and can be assessed on the content, not the appearance.
4. Verbal is Better
When providing children with an assignment, discuss it verbally to make sure the dyslexic child understands the instruction. Depending on the activity, linking it to a funny action or story sometimes helps the child remember.
To determine a dyslexic child’s understanding, give them the chance to answer questions verbally. Having the child answer out loud will allow you to determine if they have an understanding of the subject matter and are simply unable to put that understanding into writing.
5. Assess Risk
Dystech has an excellent product for teachers and parents that allows them to access the risk of a student in their classroom. Their dyslexia screening is designed for any child over the age of 8, including adults.
The test involves a list of 32 words, 16 are nonsense words, 16 are real English words. The words are generated using artificial intelligence according to the screenee’s age. The results are obtained through the use of six metrics.
The first three metrics are regarding the reading reaction time. Reading reaction is how long it takes between when a word is seen and when it is read. The other three metrics deal with reading time, which is how long it takes to read a word.
The results of the screening provide the likelihood of Dyslexia of a child. If the likelihood is 70% or higher, it is advisable to seek assistance from an accredited professional. All estimates are done using artificial intelligence algorithms and are therefore free of human error.
Prepare for the Future
When preparing your classroom, it will help to know how to teach a child with Dyslexia. Knowledge will allow you to help every child with Dyslexia succeed.
If you have any questions about using the Dystech app for Dyslexia screening or would like to see a demonstration, we invite you to complete our online form. Additionally, check out our website for more information on this unique e-assessment tool.