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A Dyslexic Child in the Classroom

© 2000, Patricia Hodge Dip.spld(dyslexia) & Davis Facilitator

A guide for teachers and parents.

In the class:

Of value to all children in the class is an outline of what is going to be taught in the lesson, ending the lesson with a resume of what has been taught. In this way information is more likely to go from short term memory to long term memory.

When homework is set, it is important to check that the child correctly writes down exactly what is required. Try to ensure that the appropriate worksheets and books are with the child to take home.

In the front of the pupils’ homework book get them to write down the telephone numbers of a couple of friends. Then, if there is any doubt over homework, they can ring up and check, rather than worry or spend time doing the wrong work.

Make sure that messages and day to day classroom activities are written down, and never sent verbally. i.e. music, P. E. swimming etc.

Make a daily check list for the pupil to refer to each evening. Encourage a daily routine to help develop the child’s own self-reliance and responsibilities.

Encourage good organizational skills by the use of folders and dividers to keep work easily accessible and in an orderly fashion.

Break tasks down into small easily remembered pieces of information.

If visual memory is poor, copying must be kept to a minimum. Notes or handouts are far more useful.

Seat the child fairly near the class teacher so that the teacher is available to help if necessary, or he can be supported by a well-motivated and sympathetic classmate.

 

Copying from the blackboard:

Use different colour chalks for each line if there is a lot of written information on the board, or underline every second line with a different coloured chalk.

Ensure that the writing is well spaced.

Leave the writing on the blackboard long enough to ensure the child doesn’t rush, or that the work is not erased from the board before the child has finished copying.

 

Reading:

A structured reading scheme that involves repetition and introduces new words slowly is extremely important. This allows the child to develop confidence and self esteem when reading.

Don’t ask pupils to read a book at a level beyond their current skills, this will instantly demotivate them. Motivation is far better when demands are not too high, and the child can actually enjoy the book. If he has to labour over every word he will forget the meaning of what he is reading.

Save the dyslexic child the ordeal of having to ‘read aloud in class’. Reserve this for a quiet time with the class teacher. Alternatively, perhaps give the child advanced time to read pre-selected reading material, to be practiced at home the day before. This will help ensure that the child is seen to be able to read out loud, along with other children.

Real books should also be available for paired reading with an adult, which will often generate enthusiasm for books. Story tapes can be of great benefit for the enjoyment and enhancement of vocabulary. No child should be denied the pleasure of gaining access to the meaning of print even if he cannot decode it fully.

Remember reading should be fun.

 

Spelling:

Many of the normal classroom techniques used to teach spellings do not help the dyslexic child. All pupils in the class can benefit from structured and systematic exposure to rules and patterns that underpin a language.

Spelling rules can be given to the whole class. Words for class spelling tests are often topic based rather than grouped for structure. If there are one or two dyslexics in the class, a short list of structure-based words for their weekly spelling test, will be far more helpful than random words. Three or four irregular words can be included each week, eventually this should be seen to improve their free-writing skills.

All children should be encouraged to proof read, which can be useful for initial correction of spellings. Dyslexics seem to be unable to correct their spellings spontaneously as they write, but they can be trained to look out for errors that are particular to them.

Remember, poor spelling is not an indication of low intelligence.

 

Maths:

Maths has its own language, and this can be the root of many problems. Whilst some dyslexic students are good at maths, it has been estimated that around 90% of dyslexic children have problems in at least some areas of maths. General mathematical terminology words need to be clearly understood before they can be used in calculations, e.g. add, plus, sum of, increase and total, all describe a single mathematical process. Other related difficulties could be with visual/perceptual skills, directional confusion, sequencing, word skills and memory. Dyslexic students may have special difficulties with aspects of maths that require many steps or place a heavy load on the short-term memory, e.g. long division or algebra.

The value of learning the skills of estimation cannot be too strongly stressed for the dyslexic child. Use and encourage the use of estimation. The child should be taught to form the habit of checking his answers against the question when he has finished the calculation, i.e. is the answer possible, sensible or ludicrous?

When using mental arithmetic allow the dyslexic child to jot down the key number and the appropriate mathematical sign from the question.

Encourage pupils to verbalize and to talk their way through each step of the problem. Many children find this very helpful.

Teach the pupil how to use the times table square and encourage him to say his workings out as he uses it.

Encourage a dyslexic child to use a calculator. Make sure he fully understand how to use it. Ensure that he has been taught to estimate to check his calculations. This is a way of ‘proof reading’ what he does.

Put key words on a card index system or on the inside cover of the pupils maths book so it can be used for reference and revision.

Rehearse mathematical vocabulary constantly, using multi sensory/kinesthetic methods.

Put the decimal point in red ink. It helps visual perception with the dyslexic child.

 

Marking of work:

Credit for effort as well as achievement are both essential. This gives the pupil a better chance of getting a balanced mark. Creative writing should be marked on context.

Spelling mistakes pinpointed should be those appropriate to the child’s level of spelling. Marking should be done in pencil and have positive comments.

Try not to use red pens to mark the dyslexic child’s work. There’s nothing more disheartening for the child than to have work returned covered in red ink, when they’ve inevitably tried harder than their peers to produce the work.

Only ask a pupil to rewrite a piece of work that is going to be displayed. Rewriting pages for no reason at all is soul destroying as usually much effort will have already been put into the original piece of work.

 

Homework:

By the end of a school day a dyslexic child is generally more tired than his peers because everything requires more thought, tasks take longer and nothing comes easily. More errors are likely to be made. Only set homework that will be of real benefit to the child.

In allocating homework and exercises that may be a little different or less demanding, it is important to use tact. Self-esteem is rapidly undermined if a teacher is underlining the differences between those with difficulties and their peers. However, it should also be remembered that far more effort may be needed for a dyslexic child to complete the assignment than for their peers.

Set a limit on time spent on homework, as often a dyslexic child will take a lot longer to produce the same work that another child with good literacy skills may produce easily.

© 2000, Patricia Hodge Dip.spld(dyslexia) & Davis Facilitator

 

Patricia Lynn Hodge lives in Oman, and is a teacher and parent of a dyslexic child. Pat is a licensed Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator and also holds a Diploma in teaching ‘Specific Learning Difficulties/Dyslexia’ using traditional methods. Pat has brought Davis methods to her local school system, where she has worked with several students, and continues to work with other teachers to assess her students and document the rates of progress with Davis methods.

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