Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which mostly affects the ability to read and spell. To learn more about what dyslexia is, see our article: ‘What is dyslexia?’
Children who have dyslexia often struggle in school because teachers aren’t aware of their needs. School programmes are not adjusted to their needs, which can make their learning experience very frustrating. Often they feel discouraged because they struggle to keep up with their classmates. They are often labelled as stupid, especially if their dyslexia has not been diagnosed.
WHAT TO DO AS A TEACHER
If you suspect that one of your students may have dyslexia, there are some simple changes that you can make to create a better learning environment for them
· Make bigger spaces between letters and words – for example when you are writing on the board or creating worksheets or creating examination papers. This helps dyslexic children to read 20% faster, on average.
· Have the student make a personal dictionary. They should keep a list of words that they find difficult to spell, with the difficult letters highlighted.
· If you will be looking at a specific text in class, give it to the student before class so that they can prepare it.
· If the student is struggling to spell a word, encourage them to have a go. When they are writing, they can underline the word that they are unsure about.
· Some students may find that placing a coloured overlay (a clear piece of coloured plastic) over a text makes it easier to read.
· When giving instructions, don’t give too many at a time. If necessary, repeat them or create a checklist.
· Encourage the student and reward achievement.
· Make all students aware of what dyslexia is, without singling out students with dyslexia. Explain that there are many different types of intelligence and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.
WHAT TO DO AS A PARENT
If you think your child may have dyslexia, raise it with their school teacher. Work together as a team to address your child’s needs.
· Give instructions one at a time. If they don’t carry out the instruction, don’t assume that they weren’t listening to you. Sometimes people with dyslexia have trouble processing or remembering information.
· Practice left and right daily, if this is something that your child struggles with.
· Often children with dyslexia have memory problems. They can hear and understand words, but they struggle to remember them. There are games that you can play together to help improve memory. For example: place some objects on a table. Give the child ten seconds to look at the objects, then cover them. Ask the child to name as many of the objects as they can.
Struggling with dyslexia can be upsetting for a child. They might feel as though they are behind other children even though they are working just as hard. Remind them that many people with dyslexia go on to be very successful. Edwin Ugwuodo is the first Nigerian with dyslexia ever to become a lawyer. You can read more about him here!