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How can I help a dyslexic child within the classroom?

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It is very hard for a teacher to give more one-to-one support to a pupil who is dyslexic when they have the rest of the class to consider but adopting a more dyslexia-friendly approach can be of benefit to all learners.

Below we have listed things that may seem very obvious but may be helpful.

(For ease 'he' is used in the following)

  • Be multi-sensory.
  • Be aware of the individual needs of each dyslexic pupil and do not generalise - one size does not fit all and support needs will vary between dyslexic children.
  • Praise and encourage wherever possible and try to focus on what he is good at and avoid focusing too much attention on the negatives.
  • Mark written work on content, not spelling - tick what is right instead of crossing out what is wrong.
  • Mark on oral responses when possible - written work can often mask potential.
  • When reading long words, divide syllables with a pencil line and help him to pronounce words correctly.
  • Make sure he has understood and remembered instructions by being specific and concise, highlighting important messages or providing written instructions rather than verbal ones.
  • Put important words clearly on the blackboard and give plenty of time to copy. Writing on alternate lines in different colours may also help or use pre-prepared handouts for older children.
  • Use technology and support software/products where appropriate to reinforce learning, encouraging the use of support materials such as Dictaphone, laptop etc.
  • Allow extra time if he is struggling to meet deadlines.
  • If eligible ensure that he gets any examination concessions that he is entitled to, including providing a separate room to reduce distractions and disturbance when other students finish their exams.
  • If appropriate offer study skills support and help with timetabling and organisational skills.
  • For the older child try to help him plan and organise essays and assignments and be sympathetic if he arrives late or unprepared with the wrong books!

Do NOT...

  • Make him read aloud in public if he is reluctant to do so or do anything that may being attention to his difficulties on front of the class. Many dyslexic children are bullied because of their difficulties.
  • Give lists of spelling words to learn - it is better to give smaller numbers of words that are related, e.g. plate, cake, name,
  • Make him write out work again if it is messy or there are lots of errors.
  • Compare with others.
  • Make him change his writing style.
  • Make him stay behind at break-times or after school to catch up.
  • Lose patience if he learns to spell or read a new word and then later is unable to recall the same word.
  • Be too quick to assume he is being lazy as he may tire quickly as a greater level of concentration is required to compensate for his difficulties.
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