Teaching Dyslexic Children

Posted by PSIBK USD

Helping Students with Dyslexia Improve Spelling

Madeleine Jones

Children with dyslexia struggle with spelling and writing, and often those difficulties need tutoring and teaching beyond their special education classes

While dyslexia is often considered a learning disability that primarily affects how a person reads, spelling and writing are directly influenced by this most common learning disability, creating great difficulty in a child trying to communicate. Spelling trouble prevents him from being able to express himself correctly, and extends across the curriculum and beyond the environments of special education. Children are often taught spelling only in language arts classes in early grades and only in the context of learning to read, but students with dyslexia need more extensive spelling support that continues after they learn to read and after leaving special education classes.

How to Improve Learning Environments for Dyslexic Children

Prioritize spelling instruction across the curriculum and throughout grade levels. Begin spelling and phonics instruction early in elementary school, and continue its explicit instruction during the study of other subjects. Dyslexic children need more support in their spelling whenever reading is important.

Seat dyslexic children near the teacher and away from distractions during lessons about spelling or other subject matter. Research from Northwestern University finds that children with dyslexia have more trouble than other children focusing on the teacher amid background noise.

Curriculum Needs for Students with Dyslexia

  • Include explicit phonics instruction in spelling and reading lessons. Children with dyslexia need to learn and identify letter sounds and patterns systematically and need phonics instruction across the curriculum, whenever spelling is important.
  • Incorporate multi-sensory lessons during spelling instruction. Dyslexic children often respond to spelling instruction that uses not just visual cues, but touch, sound, and even creative lessons using taste and smell.
  • Focus on individual letters and sounds in spelling lessons extensively before progressing to another. For instance, focus exclusively on the “b” before moving on to the often-confused “d.” Do not teach both together.

Students with dyslexia encounter difficulties in their classrooms ranging from a lack of confidence to problems with teacher training to poor curriculum materials. Focusing on a child’s ability to spell so that she can effectively communicate in her writing is vital to her success throughout her education. The appropriate lessons are vital to that goal, as is a continuing focus on spelling instruction even after special education services are complete.

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