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Rae Largura: Teaching a Dyslexic Child

Thank you, Eric, for your question on how to best teach a child with dyslexia. I have met with a couple of our tutors who have several years of experience in this exact focus. 

The term dyslexia means difficulty with words. "Dys" means "difficulty" and "lexia" means "words."  A person suffering from this disorder experiences difficulty reading, writing, with letters, words and numbers. They are usually intelligent, although highly intelligent in an area outside of words and numbers.

When working with a dyslexic child, it is best to engage all of their senses rather than teach through repetition. They like to think with images and pictures. Incorporate visuals, touch, light, movement, smell, sound and sight together to create a multifaceted learning experience. This will not only hold their attention, it will allow them to express themselves and explore different answers without feeling restricted by a piece of paper.

Dyslexic children should be seated near the teacher's desk and chalkboard, and should be kept from distractions as much as possible. They are often kinesthetic learners, so practical activities will be beneficial. Use games and creative activities to engage the learning. Use color.

Most dyslexic students can read and understand words more easily on a pale yellow sheet of paper rather than a white sheet of paper. You might also want to try offering pens and pencils in a variety of colors so they can choose the colors that register strongly in their brain.

Children who suffer from dyslexia must learn to identify sounds and patterns among letters and words. Precise phonics instruction in reading and spelling is a must. It is best to focus on individual sounds and letters in the phonic curriculum, mastering one before moving to the next. For example, focus totally on the letter "d" before proceeding to the often times confused "b."  Find books that reinforce the phonics training. Also, find books that interest them. Holding their interest level will pay off.

Your dyslexic child will benefit greatly from your relationship with the teacher and support at home. There are so many spelling/phonic/reading programs online to supplement the school curriculum. Please find one that holds your child’s interest and challenges them a little. Then read with your child — a lot, and with patience and compassion.

Ask a Tutor runs biweekly. Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected].

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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