As a teacher, it’s essential to know that Dyslexia is a commonly misunderstood learning disability.
It’s much more than having difficulties reading and it’s not something that can be fixed with the right glasses or the right learning tools in a snap.
In fact, when a student has Dyslexia, it makes school very challenging as it also affects every aspect of their life. Nevertheless, there are things that you can do to help your student with Dyslexia thrive in school.
In this blog post, we’re going to round up simple yet excellent ways to support students with dyslexia on a daily basis.
But first, let’s talk about what dyslexia is and how to recognize it.
What is Dyslexia and how to recognize it?
The first step that you can take in order to support your students with dyslexia is to understand what it is and how you can recognize it as their teacher.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that can make it hard to read for those who are affected by it. Know that it does not mean that those who are with Dyslexia are lazy and it also doesn’t mean that they have a bad memory as they may have problems with recalling information.
Dyslexia is also not the same as having any other learning disability such as dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (also known as ADHD). Those who are affected with Dyslexia often have trouble sounding out words when they read which can make them seem slow or challenged when it comes to the task of reading
But how will you be able to recognize it in your students?
It is estimated that 15% of the population is affected by this learning disorder making it the most common learning disability.
The brain of a student with dyslexia can’t process written words in the same way as most people’s brain does—they see letters backward or jumbled up, so it can really be hard for them to figure out what those letters are supposed to look like when they’re put together into words and sentences.
That’s why teachers like you must be able to recognize signs of dyslexia early on so you can get your students the help they need before things get worse.
One of the best ways to recognize dyslexia in your students is to watch out for signs of trouble when they are trying to read, write, or speak in the classroom. If you are able to see that they are having trouble decoding words even with phonics instructions and or decoding strategies it could be a sign of dyslexia.
If they are also having trouble spelling they should also get evaluated by an educational specialist.
If you’re still unsure about whether your student might have dyslexia, consider asking them what they think the letters in their name look like.
If they can tell you the correct order it could still be a sign that they are struggling with phonemic awareness—a key element in understanding how language works.
So all in all try to be observant and look out for these three things; are they having trouble reading in class? Does your student often ask for help reading, spelling, and writing even though they’re getting good grades in other subjects? Do they often confuse letters like b and d or p and q?
And lastly, they’re having trouble sounding out words when reading out loud (also known as decoding).
If a student is experiencing a number of these things, and you want to know more about how you can support them in the classroom, then keep on reading.
8 Powerful Ways To Support Students With Dyslexia
1.) Be aware and spread Awareness
As their teacher, you have an important role in helping your student with dyslexia.
Your knowledge about dyslexia and how to support students who have it will make a big difference for them, their families, and your classroom.
So the first thing you want to do is inform yourself about dyslexia. Take time to read up on what is known about dyslexia and how it is diagnosed so you know what signs to look out for in your class.
If you suspect that one of your students has it, try to reach out to their parents or guardians so that they can get the support they need from professionals.
You can also reach out to other teachers and advocate about dyslexia and help them understand the condition by sharing what you’ve learned with them through professional development sessions or presentations at faculty meetings—even just telling your colleagues about it over lunch or break could help spread awareness.
Remember, spreading awareness is the first step in supporting students with dyslexia.
2.) Create a supportive classroom environment
As a teacher, you know that supportive and collaborative classroom culture is the key to creating an environment where all students can excel.
But what do you do when some of your learners have dyslexia?
Well, first you’ll need to know your students as individuals as much as you can and then encourage them to get to know each other. This will create a more comfortable environment for them and they’ll feel more at ease when doing tasks and most importantly when asking for help or support.
3.) Encourage them to be honest about their struggles
It’s important to encourage honesty from your student with dyslexia.
Oftentimes they will be afraid to admit that they are struggling and may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their difficulties.
This is why your encouragement is crucial to help them understand that not only is it ok to struggle but that you want to help them overcome the struggles and succeed in school.
To do this you can start by simply asking them about how well they understand what they are reading. Ask questions like; “What does the sentence mean?”, “What did you learn from this paragraph?”, or maybe “Tell me one idea from today’s lessons that caught your attention.”.
If from their answer you notice that they are having difficulties understanding the subject matter, try to work together to put up strategies to help them improve their comprehension such as summarizing information or taking frequent breaks during longer assignments (i.e., reading a book).
4.) Refrain from making assumptions
The last thing that you want to do when supporting a student with dyslexia is to make them feel bad about it, because when you do you only add to the struggles that they are facing.
As you begin to be more aware of this learning disorder try to find a way that will help them develop a better understanding of what they are capable of doing with their dyslexia and how they can use it as an asset in your life.
Remember that students with dyslexia are not lazy, unmotivated, or incapable of learning.
In fact, many students with dyslexia have excellent reading skills and even higher IQs than their peers without the condition. They just require different techniques and methods of teaching and learning than their peers.
5.) Utilize multisensory tools and activities
We know that students with dyslexia learn differently than their peers, so it’s important to give them more than one way to make connections and learn concepts. That’s why it’s so useful to incorporate multisensory input and activities into your lessons.
Multisensory learning is a powerful way to help students with dyslexia learn. One way to do this is by using flashcards, puppets, story videos, and real objects in the classroom. This will encourage the use of more than one sense at a time and their brain will be stimulated in a variety of ways.
There are also a number of apps available that can help your dyslexic students with reading, writing, and spelling. Most of them can be downloaded for free or for a small fee.
Games are also a great way to strengthen their decoding skills. Initiate games that would require your students to decode words such as bingo, crosswords, word searches, and other games that would require them to figure out a word on a card or a piece of paper.
These types of games are particularly helpful Because they provide an opportunity for students to practice decoding in a fun and engaging way which will make them feel confident in their ability to read a new text.
As you go along your journey of helping your students overcome their dyslexia, there’s a chance that you may find one tool or activity that works better than the other depending on the circumstances and support that they currently need—if all else fails try something else until something clicks!
6.) Relax deadlines and expectations
If you have a dyslexic student it is only right that you give them more time. Try to be flexible in your deadlines and timed activities and give them more consideration on their tasks, assignments, and papers.
Be flexible in your expectations as well, it’s beneficial to let them know that their grades will not be based entirely on their spelling or grammar; instead, focus on ideas and content by giving out rubrics beforehand so they know what’s expected of them, and they’ll come prepared before they even start working on their paper.
This way they will feel less pressured when working on their tasks and assignments.
7.) Small wins are still wins!
One of the most important things you can do to help your dyslexic students is to recognize and reward their efforts, not just their results. While it’s important to celebrate accomplishments, you must also acknowledge their little successes that may go unnoticed in the classroom or in their home.
For instance, if they were able to write their own name independently after practicing for weeks or maybe months, that is worth celebrating! The fact that they were able to write something all by themselves—even if it was just their own name—is validating and a sign of progress.
8.) Give your students immediate and consistent feedback
Giving feedback to students with dyslexia is not only a way of supporting them but also a method for addressing the underlying causes of their difficulties.
As such it should be done promptly and consistently. It’s important to give specific and clear feed feedback that’s delivered in a calm and non-judgmental tone.
Use specific examples of how they’ve worked hard or shown improvement and try to focus on their work and not their abilities.
While no two students with dyslexia learn in exactly the same way, it’s important to remember that dyslexic students require extra time and effort to ensure that they master the tasks assigned in class.
The key is to provide support while indicating that they may need additional time. Try to imply several strategies that can help make your classroom an inviting and supportive place for struggling readers, especially those with dyslexia.
I hope that these tips will help you support your students with dyslexia and remember that these kids are just like the rest of us—they just want to feel accepted and excel in their own unique way.
And with the right amount of encouragement, they can do just that! Until our next one!