How Teachers Can Help Dyslexic Students
With around 1.2 million children in the UK living with dyslexia, it’s important that teachers understand how to support pupils with this disability.
Dyslexia is a disability where students have difficulty reading and interpreting written meaning. Though written words are visible, they can become disorganised, jumbled and seem to sway and swim, or skip around the page. This has an emotional impact and affects the student’s ability to learn, leading to poor performance and frustration.
But with more understanding of the condition and the right support from teachers, the learning experience can be greatly improved. And, it is often, the small, simple changes that can make all the difference. Differences that can be life changing.
To this end, there are many tactics a teacher can call upon, strategies designed to help a dyslexic student perform better, with ways to help understand the different skill sets such as reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic. Many of these strategies are in fact beneficial for any, but especially so for dyslexic students.
Lesson Plan Adaptations
In the case of dyslexic students, little is often better when it comes to issuing information and instruction.
Teachers should ensure that documents given to students with dyslexia only contain instructions needed for the particular exercise in hand, without the inclusion of unnecessary detail as this can be distracting. Learning materials for these students should be clearly laid out, concise with short sentences and simply structured.
Illustrations and Images
Where possible, to help better understanding, representing sentences, meanings, or unfamiliar words with illustrations often proves useful. By breaking down, spacing out instructions and adding a diagram, many students find tasks easier to follow, and don’t need to understand each and every word; this method is referred to as ‘reading for meaning’.
Technology is proving more and more an effective and important tool in supporting teachers to accommodate students with dyslexia. Text to Speech (TTS) software speaks text on a computer screen using a generated voice. TTS is proving a powerful aid in helping students with reading and writing, particularly those students who:
Read with difficulty or slowly
Have difficulty concentrating when reading
Need regular feedback when writing
Want help proof-reading and in identifying spelling errors
Find the written word stressful at times
Feel comfortable with and benefit from the dual, visual / audio multisensory experience
Are affected by fonts and background colours
Fonts and Background Colours
Fonts and background colours can also play a significant role in reading and understanding. Fonts such as Open Dyslexic, which are free to download, are heavier at the bottom and adds gravity and weight to the written word. Those students who find characters blur or dance on the page often find using this font helps. But again, it’s a matter of seeing what works for the individual, there is no one fix for all, what works for one, won’t necessarily work for everyone.