Teaching Strategies to help Children

There are numerous techniques for teaching dyslexic children. Not all dyslexics will respond to the same techniques, so it is important to work out what will work with each particular child. Presented here are some of the techniques you could try.

Start with the Child
Dyslexic learners may often have ‘failed’ and it is very important to start by talking to and listening to your pupil. This

  • Lets you get to know the pupil as a person and get to know their interests
  • allows the pupil to get to know you
  •  builds up trust and confidence
  • helps you to assess oral ability

Learners need to feel confident to ‘have a go’ and often a dyslexic’s self esteem can be low because of previous failure. When trust is established it is much easier to find out the best way to help and support.

Try to use a range of resources and approaches which will ensure success early on which will motivate the student to learn more and to be more confident in his/her ability to learn.

What material should I use?
There are numerous programmes, teaching aids, software packages etc that you can use with students. Whichever you choose, if you are positive about it then the pupil’s confidence is improved there is a far greater chance of success.

Tuition should be multi-sensory involving looking, listening, speaking, touching etc with as much variation as possible but we are all unique and it is good to observe whether the child/adult is predominantly a

VISUAL LEARNER (learns best by seeing)

AUDITORY LEARNING (learns best by listening)

KINESTHETIC LEARNER (learns by doing/feeling)

The following are just a few tips that can be useful for any type of learner. However, the more you get to know your pupil the more you will work together to find the best individual tips.

Visual Learners

  • Use pictures and multi-media material
  • Stick spelling words anywhere in view
  • Look at pictures in a book before reading
  • Play games eg ‘pairs’ to improve memory
  • Draw mind maps
  • Use different colour eg syllables in words
  • Use good visual software programmes
  • Have an uncluttered work area

Auditory Learners

  • Talk about the book to be read or the information to be learned
  • Make sure instructions are orally clear
  • Get the student to record the information so it can be listened to again
  • Use software which has good auditory input.

Kinesthetic Learners

  • Trace letters in sand or in the air
  • Use concrete objects which can be handled eg wooden letters, numbers etc
  • Memorise facts while moving about

Tips for Numbers Work

  • Talk about numbers eg TV channels, dates, house numbers 
  • Count eg climbing stairs, skipping, etc
  • Handle real coins
  • Discuss time – day/night, early/late
  • Sequence days, months, birthdays 
  • Use board games, dominoes, dice
  • Use maths words eg how many, the same
  • Discuss symbols and signs
  • It is very important for a dyslexic to feel confident using a calculator.

Good organisation needs to be encouraged as dyslexics often jump to the answer. They need to be taught how to set down ‘working’.

Tips for Written Work

  • use lined paper
  • use spell checker
  • use word bank
  • cloze procedure (handouts with blanks)
  • use Co-writer or Texthelp (if available)
  • whenever possible give praise for content

Tips for Reading

  • limit reading demands
  • ensure appropriate reading level/material
  • paired reading
  • prepare a subject word list
  • if the child has Meares Irlen Syndrome use coloured overlays/glasses
  • try out computer software eg wordshark
  • listen to taped books

Classroom Assistants
The classroom assistant can be

  • crucial in helping a pupil achieve success
  • of important help to the class teacher

The classroom assistant often knows a pupil far better than most of the other staff in the school because of the close daily contact in a variety of situations. The assistant can

  • break down instructions and tasks
  • keep a pupil on task
  • organise work materials
  • read and/or scribe
  • note down homework
  • help with practical tasks

For a dyslexic this support is invaluable.

The classroom assistant can sometimes help the class teacher to prepare individual work material. In addition the assistant can let the class teacher know

  • which tasks are causing difficulty
  • where the pupil’s strengths lie
  • if homework is causing excessive stress
  • if there are problems relating to peers

Difficulties with processing information mean that lack of time is often a problem for a dyslexic child. He/she will feel a failure if work is consistently left incomplete.

The individual support of a classroom assistant can allow a pupil to finish a task before moving on.