Classrooms are often too noisy, fast paced and written-word based for dyslexic students, who need more time to process new information, more repetitions to secure new learning, and more practical and visual ways to understand what they are being taught.
So why not make use of this bonus time to help them learn different ways to acquire new skills and knowledge?
Think outside the box. They don’t have to be sitting at a table:
For young learners:
– Play verbal rhyming games, learn some new nursery rhymes and adapt them to be funny, or make up rhyme cards with pictures for words at their level of reading, to play pairs or snap (eg bat, cat, hat/ pen, hen, den or clock, dock, lock/ pray, play, tray).
For KS2 learners:
– Play Kim’s game (put 9 or 10 objects on a tray, give them a minute to try to memorise them, hide the objects with a tea towel and ask them to remember as many as possible. You can discuss ways of remembering as you play (eg for items like hairbrush, pepper pot, keys – 1) picture yourself brushing your hair, seasoning your dinner, opening your front door OR 2) picture the items themselves in your head OR 3) notice what letter they begin with (H, P, K) or 4) Make up a story using all the items. The more you play, the quicker you learn to use memory strategies that will support all learning in class too.
For KS3/ KS4 Learners:
When reading, get into the habit of translating word for word for key words into similar, simpler words as you go, even if you think you know what the original words mean, or even if you think your new word is not very precisely the same. This is a memory strategy to retain the meaning of text, which can be difficult for those with dyslexia. You get better and quicker at it the more you practice. It is a technique which will prepare students for formulating language in their heads when they want to organise their ideas in writing but struggle to do so.
There is always a way to shape the environment and translate the content into a state your students can understand and retain, keep searching for it and when you find what works stick to it. Our best is all we can ask for and what we should search for, as ever patience is a virtue and effort will pay its dividend.