By Ms.Khushnavaz Bhathena, Teaching Faculty – Junior School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School
My awakening to the challenges faced by students with Dyslexia occurred when I started my journey of working closely with them. Most students experience some challenge or the other during their school life, some might find certain academic topics challenging, while others struggle during an art class, but at the end of the day, they would find a way to surpass these hurdles and accomplish the task at hand.
Students with Dyslexia, however, struggle with tasks like reading and experience great difficulty making sense of the words they read. This may affect not only their academics but also affect all kinds of everyday activities such as reading the menu at the diner or learning the rules of a new board game. Does this mean they are less intelligent or cannot function in a mainstream school? NO, but they require appropriate interventions and support to guide them to become successful readers and motivated learners.
- Make it multi-sensorial: Have you ever danced to help learn mathematics, sang a song to memorise a scientific definition, or painted in physical education? If you have, then you know what I am talking about. Such strategies involving more than two senses work like magic to help students with dyslexia learn and retain that learning. Using visual teaching techniques, as well as incorporating games that include text and/or pictures on paper, posters, videos, fingerspelling (spell or draw pictures in the sand trays or shaving cream) allows them to enhance their memory and learning of written language.
For example, the educator can provide hands-on activities, such as building a 3-Dimensional map to enhance the lesson by allowing them to touch and see the concepts while they listen to the teacher explaining about it.
- Timed tasks are a nightmare: Yes, students with Dyslexia require time to not only re-read the content but to also process what they have read, therefore by giving them the accommodation of extra time, you are not just boosting their confidence, but also giving them an equal opportunity to achieve success like their peers. Repeated instructions, highlighting the keywords, and giving them short breaks in between a lengthy class increases their productivity and focus.
- Use handouts instead of copying from the board: Copying notes from the board is an incredibly challenging task for students with dyslexia as they often lose their place while reading and need to go back to the beginning. Instead, you could number points on both sides of the board to aid tracking.
- Utilize other resources: A simple yet extremely enjoyable method you can use to increase the reading ability of your struggling reader is ‘Paired Reading or Peer Reading’. It encourages them to work and support each other. Dyslexic students also benefit when they learn with alternate means such as listening to audiobooks, typing on a computer or tablet instead of writing, using gaming applications that can make the learning of decoding words, etc.
- Revamp the organizational structure: Class instructions such as “put your homework on my table”; “remove your pencil from the box”; “put your science book on your table”; and “sit upright”, all given at the same time highly confuses students with dyslexia and prevents them from responding appropriately. Therefore, give them step-by-step instructions and place them in front of you to provide them with a positive learning experience.
Mnemonic to remember the above-given strategies:
Multi-Sensorial – Ms.
Time Task – Talented Teacher
Handouts – Has
Resources – Really
Organizational Structure – Outstanding Students
Thus, an understanding of the student’s specific difficulties, and how they may affect the student’s classroom performance, can enable the teacher to adapt teaching methods and strategies to help the dyslexic child to be successful in an integrated classroom environment. Dyslexic children, like all children, thrive on challenges and success.