Every dyslexic student experiences their own unique collection of challenges when it comes to studying. In this article I am going to show you a number of resources that could be useful to you whether you are a student or whether you are someone who is supporting dyslexic students in getting the best from their studies.
If there is something that I absolutely love when I am looking for fresh resources for you is YouTube. Whilst for some YouTube can be a wonderful place to sit and procrastinate (guilty as charged), it is also a source of great knowledge and today I came across a lovely video from a student who shared some of her tips on how to study with dyslexia. Enjoy!
The video above was a really useful insight into the life of a dyslexic student and what they have done to help with their own studies. That said, said I have one issue with the video.. I would like point 5 (Have fun) to be point 1!
You see, a good part of struggling with studying is focus, concentration and motivation. If we are studying subjects that we simply don’t like or feel passionate about then given the amount of focus and energy that a dyslexic student is likely to put into their work, the student will always find studying an uphill struggle. Often subjects that we don’t like can appear boring on the face of it, so as students if we have to take part in those subjects we need to do what we can to try and build our engagement and the best way of doing that is having fun.
Having fun when studying.
The video talks about using colour when studying and I have found that this has worked for me in the past. It has often worked for me because I am having fun using different colours. This works especially when using mind mapping to get thoughts and ideas together. I use colour to segment types of information. For me this brings a nice contrast between topics which allows me to glance at notes knowing what they are referring to. The enjoyment makes studying less exhausting.
Another reason that fun is important is that if we are not having fun when studying it could be because our dyslexic challenges are getting in the way and maybe bringing on a sense of overwhelm from which we would simply love to run and hide.
For example, if you know that you have revision to do which involves a lot of reading from a text book, as a dyslexic you may feel that this is going to be exhausting. The problem is that you know that you have to revise and convention puts pressure on you to open up a book and read, which could be a huge challenge.
Even now, I know that I avoid reading because I know that 1) I will need to read something a number of times for the information to go in and 2) it will waste energy and deliver little benefit.
So if reading feels like the only option then dyslexic students might feel under immense pressure to do something that may not deliver much value but waste resources. So why would it be fun?
Use technology to make studying fun.
If that is the case then consider using different types of technology to help with note taking and reading.
For example, a really simple way of absorbing information could be to listen to it rather than read it and there is a tonne of technology available that can help, free and paid for.
If you have been given a text book to absorb information from then one piece of technology that I have found to be effective is a handheld text scanner called the C-Pen (check out my review here). What I like about this tiny device is that it gives the student a quick and easy way to listen to text rather than read text. For some, it will take the pressure off that usually comes from being overwhelmed about reading, it becomes more of a relaxing process and maybe you might find that you start to enjoy the topic. For me, using technology to do anything is fun and so that builds up that feeling of enjoyment and engagement. On a PC there are other bits of software that can do a similar job provided the content is in the correct format.
Use low tech solutions too to make studying fun!
On of my favourite inventions is something called Magic Whiteboard. Basically it is a sheet of thin plastic film that you rip off from a roll and put on the wall. It sticks to the wall using static electricity so it really is ‘rip and stick’. Straight away you have a whiteboard upon which you can stick coloured Post Its or write on with coloured markers. It gives you a larger surface upon which to play with topics and concepts associated with studying. You have to get up out of a seat to use this stuff and movement is always good when studying. I absolutely love it as I can write my points up on a larger surface and that helps me to remember information especially as it is up on my wall until I take it down.
The take home message I think from this article is to be creative with your studying. If you know that there are ways that help you to focus, concentrate or be more motivated then use those ways. Don’t be afraid to be different as you may find that you inspire others to study better.