Around 6.3 million people in the UK have dyslexia, that’s roughly 10% of the population. As such a common learning difficulty, part of every teacher’s job is to make sure that they can spot the signs of dyslexia, and provide the right kind of support to help children with dyslexia feel confident and included.
This is particularly crucial in the early years of education as children begin to embark on their educational journey, and start to tackle reading and writing for the first time. What are the early signs of dyslexia?
- Reading and writing very slowly, slower than the other children in the class
- Reading some letters backwards like ‘b’ and ‘d’
- Confusing the order of letters in certain words
- Finding it difficult to get the hang of spelling
- Ease of learning when being spoken to, but having difficulty putting words on paper or reading text
The Do’s and Dont’s of Teaching Children with Dyslexia
- Teach children about dyslexia, including children in the class who don’t have dyslexia. This will create a safe space where dyslexia can be discussed and understood. Be sure to be sensitive about how you educate the class on learning difficulties so that those with them don’t feel singled out.
- Learn about and teach dyslexic children about the strengths of dyslexia and famous or successful people with dyslexia. Encourage them to look at dyslexia as a difference and not a weakness.
- Take time to find out how a child with dyslexia learns best, whether that be visually, kinesthetic or auditorily.
- When a child with dyslexia is having a hard time on a task, be patient, listen to them and don’t overwhelm them. Sometimes a task can seem impossible to them, and breaks might be needed.
- Provide other, non-written ways for students to present what they have learned, for example through acting, singing, drawing or making something.
- Reward even the smallest successes and encourage the child to look at their progress and feel good about improvements they’ve worked on.
- Leave it too late to provide support and intervention. Dyslexia doesn’t get better or go away on it’s own.
- Grade writing exercises only on spelling. Give the child other merits to work towards and show them that spelling is not the only importance to writing well.
- Try to keep dyslexia a secret or an unspoken topic. Dyslexia is part of a child’s identity and they should know it is not a bad thing and shouldn’t be hidden. Encouraging children of all levels to be open about dyslexia removes this prejudice early on.
- Ask a dyslexic child to read aloud. This is probably obvious to most teachers, but dyslexic children should never be called upon to perform their reading skills. It should be their choice to volunteer if they want to.
- Ask a dyslexic child to copy down writing from the board or a textbook, try to find alternative ways for them to record information where possible.
Teaching Resources for Children with Dyslexia
Symptoms of dyslexia do not really become apparent until children are in school and begin learning to read and write. This means that most commonly dyslexia is diagnosed around the age of five. The dyslexia test on the link is for children ages five to seven and is completely free. It takes an adult through easy steps and multiple-choice questions about hearing, reading, and speaking words to determine if a child could be dyslexic and need to be diagnosed by a professional.
A simple tool like this can help teachers evaluate children they might believe to be dyslexic, which can then be passed on to the appropriate adults.
This app is suitable for older students with dyslexia to link up written words with their verbal phonogram counterparts. Downloadable for a computer, tablet or phone, the app helps children practice and understand all 72 basic phonograms in the English language.
This book series is created using a unique font that simplifies reading for children with dyslexia. The books are structured in a way that allows children to enjoy and grow accustomed to characters with images only in the beginning. The format of the books then slowly build up from individual words to longer sentences by the end of each story. The books are written with reading progression for KS1 in mind and can be used by children with or without dyslexia. In addition to this set children can progress to sets 2 and 3 in the series.
A common difficulty for people with dyslexia is reading certain letters in reverse such as ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘n’, and ‘u’. This can present a big problem for children learning to read and distinguish letters to understand words. The free e-book on the link above presents four results-driven methods to solve letter reversals and help children with dyslexia grasp reading more easily.
The book will cover how to tackle letter reversals early, before reading even begins; multisensory ways to learn letters such as ‘air writing’ and tactile surfaces; and analogies to help children distinguish between ‘b’ and ‘d’.
Twinkl offers a huge library of online resources for teaching almost any subject or age, including children with special educational needs or disabilities. Most resources are free to download and teachers can find activity sound mats, worksheets, posters, and lesson plans.
Resources for teaching children with dyslexia include worksheets to help children sound out letters, words, and phonics. Full lesson or module resource packs are also available to guide teachers and teaching assistants on how to approach certain topics with dyslexia in mind.
This website touts that it is “For people who want to beat dyslexia, not just cope with it.” The site is run by dyslexic people for dyslexic people and offers long-term solutions to the everyday difficulties they face.
Beating Dyslexia covers a broad spectrum of information including symptoms and signs of dyslexia, links to tests, and information on causes and types. Teachers will find resources to help with reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. There is also a section dedicated to studying skills and motivation. With sections for parents and teachers, this website is a handy tool to support lessons and homework.
When it comes to dyslexia, patience, understanding and motivation go a long way. A teacher who takes the time to learn about dyslexia as well as how their students respond to learning can make all the difference to a child’s life.