One of the biggest mistakes teachers and parents make when concerned about a dyslexic child is to focus too much attention on his or her reading ability. This is most evident when lesson plans for educating the child focus on reading (either in a textbook or online).
A dyslexic child already feels bad enough that reading is difficult and paying too much attention to reading, even when intentions are good, can sometimes be overwhelming. Many dyslexics are more sensitive as well, making the dramatic meltdown when they are struggling even more dramatic.
Dyslexics have more to offer
While some feel dyslexia is some kind of curse, those who can look at the bright side see that many extremely talented people are dyslexic. The debate
continues over whether it is the dyslexia that caused them to be brilliant or if it just got in the way. But the fact of the matter is, dyslexics have many talents and many ways to shine.
Make sure your dyslexic students have a way to show off their talents. Try to include their skills when you are developing lesson plans for them. Encourage their strengths by including them in your lesson plans.
When educating a dyslexic child, don’t just use textbooks as the main source of information. Get creative and find other resources for teaching a subject. This could be games, videos, hands-on projects, cooking, sewing, investigating and experimenting. Consider the talents of your dyslexic student and try to discover ways in which he or she would enjoy learning a topic. Students who are very good LEGO engineers would enjoy building pyramids, castles, cabins or other buildings during history lessons. Students who are excellent cooks would enjoy whipping up something in a science lesson.
Links to more tips
These links will give you plenty of ideas for broadening your lesson plans to help dyslexics learn:
- Multi-sensory lessons : The basics on adding multiple senses to lesson plans.
- An unschooling plan : While it focuses on unschooling, a form of homeschooling, this page offers plenty of tips for making learning fun by using videos, fun websites, hands-on projects and more.
- Beaver unit study : This page focuses on a particular subject, beavers, but will give you ideas of how to add more to a lesson to make it a complete learning experience.
- Puppet narrators : This page gives ideas for making reading lessons more enjoyable. When you are actually studying reading, making it more entertaining will go a long way to encourage dyslexic readers.
Direct more discussion when reading with a dyslexic
When I am working with my son on his reading, we take a different approach that involves stopping frequently and discussing what is going on. It sort of resembles guided reading
but doesn’t involve a hands-on project at the end and I really don’t do as much preparation for it as I do a guided reading lesson.
Our approach is to read a bit, making our way to an ending punctuation, and discussing what is happening. I learned this approach from the book The Gift of Dyslexia.
Along with discussing the visuals that show up in our minds, I will also point out specific scenes and discuss them in more detail. We may talk about alternate actions a character could have taken or, if the events are historical, we may compare them to life as it is now. If there are words that may be new to him, I’ll ask him if he knows what they mean. We may look them up and see if we can describe them better.
The goal is not just reading practice and comprehension but total immersion into reading. The goal of reading for everyone is to learn and to experience, so I want to provide that for my son when he reads. I help direct his experience a little more by getting him to talk about it. After much practice, he will learn to direct his own reading experience. Then reading will be a pleasure to him and not a chore.
A whole lot of heart goes into the work of teaching dyslexics
Teaching a dyslexic student takes creativity and patience, but also requires a lot of understanding. It is important to know that someone who is dyslexic is not less intelligent than other students but only learns in a different way. When you understand how your dyslexic student learns, you will both be on the path to success.
A lesson about warm colors is more fun and thorough with an art project following it.
One of the most important parts of a lesson plan for dyslexic students is allowing for multi-sensory learning
. This means providing a means to learn a subject through the students’ other senses, like sight, sound and touch. When a student has multiple opportunities to experience a subject, he or she is able to learn it more quickly and easily.
Art and science are subjects that are easily made multi-sensory with projects and experiments that allow for students to get hands-on experience. For example, a science lesson on seeds and plant growth is often completed with a project involving planting a seed and watching it grow. A lesson in art on warm colors is completed with a painting using reds, oranges and yellows.
A complete learning experience
Multi-sensory experiences make a lesson complete. Not only do students get to see the lesson, they get to experience it first hand. They get to feel the lesson and interact with the lesson. The learning experience is thorough and students most often come away with much more knowledge than you intended to impart.
Not an impossible task
So teaching dyslexics is not impossible. It can be done and it can be fun. If you have dyslexic students you are teaching, consider making your lessons more complete with hands-on projects, videos or other materials that will help them learn more easily.