Learning, in general, can sometimes be difficult. But for some students, learning is always difficult. These students deal with dyslexia. It’s common, meaning there might be one in the classroom or even in your household. Either way, dyslexia is nothing to fear or be ashamed of; it’s just a simple bump in the road, that makes the journey just a little bit slower and a little more difficult.
In anyone’s learning journey, reading aloud is a small step in understanding and processing content. But for students with dyslexia, reading aloud can prompt anxiety. Words don’t process as quickly or read the same as the rest in the classroom for dyslexic students. So being asked to read aloud, focusing on the words in front of them but fearing they will skip or misread words is not the highlight of their day. This same anxiety occurs when writing. Dyslexic students struggle to convert the brilliant thoughts swirling in their mind to grammatical sentences. Instead, dyslexic students thrive on verbal expression. Incorporating verbal communication and discussion rather than putting pen to paper will also give a boost of confidence.
A set-out plan of the lesson or objectives for the lesson will also help in the learning journey. Printing out a copy of a worksheet and placing numbered steps on what needs to be completed will assist in the process. With a clearly defined outline of the session, students can keep focus and know what to complete next when one task is fulfilled. This conveniently leaves little room for students to procrastinate, which I’m sure we can all agree is never a good idea. These numbered steps also help in the long run. When a new worksheet is presented, students won’t need the little numbers, they’ll have it all down pat.
With any learning difficulty, comes different and usually more fun ways of learning. The stock standard ways of taking down notes from a whiteboard aren’t going to help. Visualising ideas or approaching content with a new creative perspective may be the recipe for students to remember new ideas. One fun way to combine all those things is through a fancy-sounding technique known as multi-sensory learning. If you’re as confused as I was when I first heard it, essentially, it’s the combination of senses like touch added with sight or movement and hearing, that helps students absorb information. An innocent example might be having students play hopscotch landing on words or letters while pronouncing them.
Dyslexic students are still students and intelligent ones at that. Sometimes it’s just that the new equation in Maths might take a few more lessons to understand than the student sitting beside them. It’s just like ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, slow and steady wins the race.