A guide for teachers and parents.
© 2000, Patricia Hodge Dip.spld(dyslexia)
Proficient reading is an essential tool for learning a large part of the subject matter taught at school. With an ever increasing emphasis on education and literacy, more and more children and adults are needing help in learning to read, spell, express their thoughts on paper and acquire adequate use of grammar. A dyslexic child who finds the acquisition of these literacy skills difficult can also suffer a lot of anguish and trauma when they may feel mentally abused by their peers within the school environment, because they have a learning difficulty. Much can be done to alleviate this by integrating the child into the class environment (which is predominantly a learning environment) where he/she can feel comfortable and develop confidence and self esteem. Class teachers may be particularly confused by the student whose consistent underachievement seems due to what may look like carelessness or lack of effort. These children can be made to feel very different from their peers simply because they may be unable to follow simple instructions, which for others seem easy. It is a class teacher's responsibility to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for all pupils within their class. Class teachers need to have an understanding of the problems that the dyslexic child may have within the classroom situation. Hopefully, with this knowledge, a great deal of misunderstanding of a child's behaviour can be prevented. In a positive and encouraging environment, a dyslexic child will experience the feeling of success and self-value. Of particular importance is an understanding of the problems that poor auditory short term memory can cause, in terms of retaining input from the teacher. Examples of poor auditory short term memory can be a difficulty in remembering the sounds in spoken words long enough to match these, in sequence, with letters for spelling. Often children with poor auditory short term memory cannot remember even a short list of instructions. The following items should provide useful guidelines for teachers and parents to follow and support : In the class:
* Of value to all children in the class is an outline of what is going to be taught in the lesson, ending the lesson with a resume of what has been taught. In this way information is more likely to go from short term memory to long term memory. * When homework is set, it is important to check that the child correctly writes down exactly what is required. Try to ensure that the appropriate worksheets and books are with the child to take home. * In the front of the pupils' homework book get them to write down the telephone numbers of a couple of friends. Then, if there is any doubt over homework, they can ring up and check, rather than worry or spend time doing the wrong work. * Make sure that messages and day to day classroom activities are written down, and never sent verbally. i.e. music, P. E. swimming etc. * Make a daily check list for the pupil to refer to each evening. Encourage a daily routine to help develop the child's own self-reliance and responsibilities. * Encourage good organizational skills by the use of folders and dividers to keep work easily accessible and in an orderly fashion. * Break tasks down into small easily remembered pieces of information. * If visual memory is poor, copying must be kept to a minimum. Notes or handouts are far more useful. * Seat the child fairly near the class teacher so that the teacher is available to help if necessary, or he can be supported by a well-motivated and sympathetic classmate. Copying from the blackboard:
* Use different colour chalks for each line if there is a lot of written information on the board, or underline every second line with a different coloured chalk. * Ensure that the writing is well spaced.
* Leave the writing on the blackboard...