Teaching Children With Dyslexia
What Accommodations Should My Child Have at School?
As a dyslexic specialist and someone who knows a great deal about teaching children
with dyslexia, I see on a daily basis the struggles these students face in the mainstream
classroom. What can be written in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) varies
from state to state, and, often, dyslexia
is not even addressed. Sometimes, if you approach it as a reading disability or a processing
disorder, the schools may be more willing to work with you. You have the right as
parents to discuss with your children's teachers certain accommodations that will
help your children perform better and allow them to measure a more-accurate assessment
of their knowledge and intelligence. You may take this list in to your children's
schools and/or teachers and discuss with them what they would be willing to do to
help your children.
These are the accommodations I suggest for teaching children with dyslexia while
they are at school. Please read over them with your children and make your children's
teachers and/or aides aware:
- Additional time on tests may be needed to process the information. Often, students
may need the directions or questions read to them. If writing is a severe struggle,
they should be allowed the option to give their answers to their tests orally.
- Spelling tests should have a common phonetic skill and should be no more
than 10 words a time.
- It is important to remember that until dyslexic readers achieve fluency, they will
increase their comprehension when they have more time to read. Please allow for
additional processing time.
- Dyslexic students' route to learning is through meaning; meaning provides
a framework for remembering. More than for others, they must fully understand the
topic; rote memory does not work well for them. Focus on concepts and real-life
examples and experiences, and provide many opportunities for practice. Teach ideas
first, then establish categories for different groups of facts, and point out connections
within and between categories (like a three-part essay.)
- Far and away, the most critical accommodation for dyslexic readers is the provision
of extra time. They also benefit from a quiet environment.
- Students should never have to copy notes or outlines from the board or overhead
projections. They should be provided with a written copy, or teachers should allow
someone to take notes for them. This allows students the ability to focus on processing
the information instead of laboring to write it and losing the intent and meaning.
- All directions should be two steps or fewer. Give them one thing to do, let them
complete that task, and then give them the next task. They will get confused and
frustrated with a long list of “to dos” or directions.
Here are some additional helps for teaching children with dyslexia:
- Obtain books on tape or in digitized form.
reading materials to identify words you can’t pronounce. Obtain a pocket dictionary,
and take it with you everywhere.
- Talk through the material with your teachers or tutors on a one-to-one basis. This
usually works best after you have read the required pages.
- Avoid multiple-choice tests; instead, request tests that are based on short essay.
Multiple-choice tests do not provide enough context to help you get to the meaning
of difficult-to-decode words.
- Avoid speed-reading classes.
- Obtain a waiver from foreign-language requirements.
- Visualize the material.
- Do not allow language problems to influence performance in other academic areas.
- Handwriting is often laborious and barely legible, so you can get a laptop computer,
borrow someone else’s lecture notes, record lectures, and record your own essays.
Your written work should be graded on content rather than on form, especially spelling.
- Give prepared, short oral reports rather than instant oral responses in class.
- Phonologic slips should not be mistakenly interpreted as a lack of knowledge.
- Learning is a top-down approach, going from meaning to facts; select courses in
which the emphasis is on concepts, not details.
- Focus on strengths, and remember how amazing you are!
Read more about
reading programs that will help you continue teaching children