Parents of dyslexic children across the UK are struggling with getting support for their child in the classroom. Beccie Hawes, Head of Service at the Rushall Inclusion Advisory Team has some great tips that you can pass to your teachers that will help.
As a parent what really helped me to be confident in achieving change for my daughter’s academic needs at school so that she could feel like she was thriving more, was information from a specialist on what helps.
My daughter has a dyslexia diagnosis and with that came suggestions for reasonable adjustments that the school followed.
You may not have a diagnosis in place for your child but what you can do is call your child’s teachers to account on how dyslexia friendly their classrooms are and persevere in getting them to change their approach to learning so that it is more inclusive.
I recently discovered an article on the TTS Blog, written by Beccie Hawes who is the Head of Service at the Rushall Inclusion Advisory Team. In the article, Beccie cited some great suggestions of what teachers could do to make their classrooms focus on what she calls Quality First Teaching with some tweaks that will help with dyslexic learning.
It struck me that as parents we should be looking at information like this and challenge our child’s teachers on what they are doing about making learning more accessible for children with dyslexia and other special educational needs, given that at least 10% of their classroom are likely to benefit from those changes.
Before you read the list you should be aware that the needs of children with dyslexia are not identical and so not everything on the list will be appropriate for your child, but you can at least consider what is mentioned and talk to your child about what they think and together influence your teachers to become more dyslexia friendly.
The list is as follows:
Make sure all texts are uncluttered, have a simple and a rounded font, use double line spacing and contain visuals clues that support the overall meaning.
Important information contained in a text should be clearly signposted – think about using boxes or highlighting.
Limit copying – can the pupil have their own tabletop copy to interact with?
Remember that the dyslexic pupil will be working much harder than their peers to deal with written information and language. Allow for fatigue by building in natural rest breaks.
Give key subject-specific vocabulary as a bookmark or a table mat with accompanying pictures to support spelling. The pupil could help make these as part of a pre-teaching activity to make them personally relevant.
Ensure that the readability of all texts provided is at the appropriate level for the pupil’s ability.
Where possible offer alternatives to writing large amounts. Teach the strategic use of mind maps, bullet points, lists, tables, diagrams and the use of a scribe. Ensure that the pupil has opportunities to demonstrate the true level of their knowledge, skills and understanding.
Offer the use of voice recording devices. These can be used in many ways such as: to record instructions, ideas, messages for home and intentions for writing.
Provide any texts the pupil needs to read in advance of the lesson. Allow them to highlight key points, add sub-headings and record any questions that they may have.
Provide visual task timelines to help pupils with place keeping for multi-step tasks.
Revisit and revise regularly.
In the article from TTS, Beccie makes the point that these changes will not just benefit a child with dyslexia but is more than likely to benefit many pupils in a classroom.
My favourite point from the above is about the use of bullet points, mind-mapping and diagrams as well as the comment about limiting copying.
My feeling is that the above list takes away a lot of the stress and anxiety in a classroom for any child and if you can do that then you make the actual dyslexic challenges far less overwhelming.
Want to hear some more from Becky?
Beccie Hawes speaks all over the country about inclusive teaching and in March next year she will be speaking at the Dyslexia Show which the Studying With Dyslexia Blog is supporting and she will be speaking on the following topics:
Quality First Teaching Strategies: If It Works for Dyslexic Learners It Benefits Everyone!
This talk will focus upon how we can make sure that the classroom experience and environment gives dyslexic learners the very best possible chance to succeed. By matching the day-to-day core differentiation and scaffolding available as part of our quality first teaching offer to the needs of our dyslexic learners we will identify what effective learning can look like and how we can best facilitate this. The strategies looked at will not only support dyslexic learners but, as part of an inclusive approach, support and be of benefit for everyone. A number of easy to adopt yet highly effective teaching tweaks will be explored that will bust potential barriers to learning. Inclusive scaffolding and differentiation approaches that effectively support curriculum access and positive mental health will be demonstrated and useful but cost effective resources signposted.
Making Spellings Stick: How to Make Learning to Spell Fun!
Many children and young people find the dreaded weekly spelling test a real low point of the week. Despite working really hard to learn the words set home they often find it really difficult to either remember the words in the test situation or spell them either incorrectly or inconsistently when writing independently. This can cause unwanted stress, tears and arguments at home. This talk will focus upon multi-sensory, fun, memorable and easy strategies that parents can use to support their children in learning to spell their personal tricky words using things that they have at home in a new and innovative way. Lots of practical approaches will be demonstrated that don’t involve a pen or paper all aimed at helping spellings to stick!