Teaching Students With Dyslexia

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For children with dyslexia, spelling and writing pose a constant struggle, and their difficulties may require teaching students with dyslexia in addition to the special education classes they attend.


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Dyslexia is usually considered to be a learning disability that affects a person’s reading abilities, but writing and spelling are equally affected by this common disability which makes it extremely difficult for a child to communicate. Spelling problems prevent the child from expressing himself, and it goes right across the curriculum and extends beyond the reaches of special education.

Usually children are taught spelling in the language arts classes in the early grades only, and that too as part of reading lessons. But teaching students with dyslexia requires greater spelling support which should continue after they have learnt to read and after completing their special education classes.

Teaching students with dyslexia should include improving the learning environment for the dyslexic children. For this, spelling instructions should be given priority through all grade levels and right across the curriculum. Phonics and spelling instruction should be started early at the elementary school stage, and should be continued as explicit instruction while doing other subjects. Children with dyslexia require much more spelling support whenever reading is an important part of the learning.

When teaching students with dyslexia in the classroom, they should be seated near the teacher, away from noise and distractions while the lesson on spelling or any other subject matter is going on. Research has established that dyslexic children find it more difficult to concentrate on the teacher in the midst of background noise.

Other steps while teaching students with dyslexia in the classroom include preparing an outline of the lesson to be taught in the class and ending the lesson with recapitulations of what has been taught.

Curriculum changes for dyslexic students

Reading and spelling lessons should include phonics instruction while teaching students with dyslexia. Dyslexic children have to be taught to identify letter patterns and sounds systematically, and they should be given phonics instruction all through the curriculum whenever spelling needs attention.

Multi sensory lessons have to be incorporated in spelling instruction while teaching students with dyslexia. Dyslexic students greatly benefit from spelling instructions that use not only visual elements but sound, touch and even creative lessons which use smell and taste.

There should be extensive focus on individual sounds and letters during spelling lessons while teaching students with dyslexia, before going on to the next lesson. For example, there should be exclusive focus on “b” before going on to the confusing “d”, and the two should never to taught together.

Dyslexic students face multiple difficulties in the classroom, which include lack of self confidence, inadequate teacher training and curriculum material. It is important to focus on a child’s spelling while teaching students with dyslexia, so that he/she can communicate effectively through his/her writing, and this is critical to her academic success throughout her education. Appropriate lessons are crucial for attaining this goal, along with an ongoing focus on spelling instructions beyond the services of special education.

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