Approximately 5 to 15% of school-aged students are estimated to have a learning disability, with a substantial majority (80%) displaying reading difficulties, commonly referred to as dyslexia. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that manifests as a cluster of symptoms resulting in impaired language skills, particularly in reading, spelling, writing, and word pronunciation. The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown, but it is believed to be related to neurological differences in the areas of the brain responsible for language processing.
People with dyslexia do not grow out of their condition. However, several teaching approaches and strategies can be employed to improve their reading skills and manage the challenges they face. These strategies can help them develop the skills they need to overcome their reading difficulties, resulting in improved academic performance. Some of these strategies are mentioned below:
Multi-Sensory Teaching Approach
The multi-sensory approach incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic skills to facilitate learning. This helps to engage the child and promote a more comprehensive understanding of the concepts being taught.
The child can form more robust connections between the concepts and their real-world applications by engaging multiple senses. Additionally, it helps to develop neural pathways that create a more solid foundation for learning.
Phonics-Based Reading Programs
Phonics-based reading instruction is a practical approach to teaching reading to children with dyslexia. Children can decode new words more efficiently by knowing the relationships between letters and sounds. Several dyslexia reading programs are available on the market today. For example, dyslexia reading programs by The Reading Switch offer a visual phonic program that caters to the learning needs of children with dyslexia by providing short lessons that focus on the development of word decoding abilities.
Studies have shown practical, hands-on activities facilitate learning for children with dyslexia. This can include building models, using manipulatives to solve mathematical problems, and participating in hands-on scientific experiments.
This type of learning allows children to see and experience the concepts they are learning rather than merely reading or hearing them. This type of learning is often more engaging and stimulating, which can help children with dyslexia better understand and retain the material.
By maintaining a structured and predictable routine, students with dyslexia can feel more secure and concentrate more effectively. A structured routine should include specific times for academic work, breaks, and leisure activities and clearly defined rules and expectations for behavior. This helps to reduce anxiety and confusion, as students with dyslexia often feel overwhelmed by their environment and have difficulty focusing on their tasks. Additionally, a structured routine allows students with dyslexia to develop coping strategies for managing tasks, making learning more enjoyable and less intimidating.
Using assistive technology can help children with dyslexia stay focused and organized. Text-to-speech software, speech recognition software, and digital organizers are examples of assistive technology that can assist with managing tasks.
Text-to-speech software helps by reading written material aloud, allowing children with dyslexia to focus on the content without having to decode the words on the page. Speech recognition software can help with dictation, allowing children to express their ideas without worrying about spelling or grammar. Digital organizers can help children with dyslexia stay on task by breaking tasks into smaller chunks and keeping track of due dates and other essential details.
When working with students with dyslexia, it’s essential to use effective interventions. This might include programs such as the Orton-Gillingham approach, which has a solid evidence base. The Orton-Gillingham approach focuses on letter-sound correspondence, phonological awareness, and phonemic awareness. It is effective in helping students with dyslexia read and spell better.
To ensure successful interventions with students with dyslexia, teachers must stay up to date on the latest research and evidence-based practices.
Each student with dyslexia has unique strengths, needs, and learning styles, so teachers should create learning plans tailored to their needs. This might involve providing additional support, such as tutoring, or adapting the materials to make them easier to understand. Additionally, it’s vital to ensure instruction is at an appropriate pace; if students become overwhelmed, they may struggle to make progress.
Systematic and Explicit Instructions
Systematic and explicit instruction is an approach that emphasizes the provision of clear and structured lessons, along with explicit instructions and consistent reinforcement. In this method, a teacher may provide step-by-step instructions for a writing task and offer immediate feedback after each step. This approach is designed to aid students with dyslexia in comprehending the expectations for each task and the proper methodology for approaching it.
Fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Students with dyslexia often struggle with fluency, so it’s important to incorporate activities that help build fluency into the classroom. This might include repeated, choral, and oral reading with a partner. For instance, a teacher might have students take turns reading a passage aloud while the other students listen and follow along with their copies of the text. This type of activity not only helps students develop fluency but also encourages them to practice good reading habits, such as paying attention to punctuation and pausing at appropriate times.
Collaboration with Specialists
Students with dyslexia often need support from a variety of specialists, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists. Teachers should work closely with these specialists to ensure that each student receives the support they need. Teachers need to stay connected with each specialist to provide feedback, monitor progress, and adjust strategies as needed.
There are various effective teaching methods for children with dyslexia, from a multi-sensory approach and phonics-based programs to systematic and explicit instructions and assistive technology. By incorporating a combination of these methods into their learning experiences, students with dyslexia can develop the skills they need to succeed academically and beyond.
It is important to remember that every student with dyslexia is unique and may benefit from a personalized approach that takes into account their strengths and challenges. With the proper support and resources, students with dyslexia can achieve their full potential and reach their goals.