Useful Help at Primary Level
Teachers need to be well informed generally about dyslexia. All teachers are responsible for catering for the diverse learning needs of their students.
Teachers also need to be aware of the individual profiles and specific needs of each student with dyslexia in their class, as each child will be different.
Teachers wishing to learn more may want to do a course on dyslexia, such as one of the Teachers’ Courses run by DAI (information on upcoming courses can be found in the Events Section). Schools are also encouraged to avail of whole-school in-service training provided by SESS, the Special Education Support Service (www.sess.ie).
Be as understanding as possible.
A structured, multi-sensory programme should be used to teach reading and spelling.
Avoid asking a pupil with dyslexia to read aloud in front of the class. However, if you really need to get the pupil to read, discreetly let them know the previous day what section they will be asked to read so they can prepare it.
Make learning achievable! Don’t give a dyslexic student a long list of words to learn every week. Give them a short list of words from a word family, e.g. boil, coil, spoil.
If giving students sequential information to learn off, be understanding. Some pupils with dyslexia find rote learning very challenging.
Remember that over-learning is essential. You can never assume that the pupil will remember a topic covered only once or twice. Build in lots of opportunities for repetition and consolidation of knowledge.
Take time to correct written work and focus on content rather than presentation. Do not correct every error, but instead concentrate on a small number of errors and set manageable targets.
Don’t ask a dyslexic student to copy out corrections/mis-spellings. This will be of no use.
A cursive handwriting style is often best as it aids spelling, neatness and fluency. Some students will need to use the computer.
Note-taking can be difficult, so provide worksheets or arrange for notes to be photocopied. Avoid tasks where students are asked to copy from the blackboard, including homework assignments.
Any worksheets given should be carefully presented, with large clear text, bold headings and diagrams to aid visual learning.
Ask the pupil to repeat back instructions given. This can be a useful memory aid. Instructions given should be clear and concise.
Careful consideration needs to be given to lesson planning to ensure that the interest level is high, but the literacy levels are adapted to suit the students’ needs.
The student with dyslexia should sit near the teacher, so that the teacher can monitor progress and be available to provide any necessary assistance.
Never compare the work of a student with dyslexia to the rest of the class or a sibling. The work presented will often not be indicative of the effort put into producing it. Ability should not be judged solely on written answers, but on oral, recorded, computer and project work.
Rewarding effort is as important as rewarding accuracy. Students with dyslexia can become very disheartened if their effort is not acknowledged.
Encourage students to build up their stronger abilities in sports, technology, drama, science, maths, etc. This is an important way to build self esteem.
Work closely with parents. They are a valuable source of help and information.
If the student is likely to receive reasonable accommodations in exams, then allow the same accommodations for homework and end-of-term exams.