Helping Children with Dyslexia

For parents at home and teachers at school, helping children with dyslexia is critically important.

F or millions of students, spelling tests, silent reading periods, and book reports are a common occurrence, and approximately 80% of students are able to complete these activities with a minimum of difficulty. For the 20% of students with characteristics of dyslexia, however, such tasks can be the equivalent of their worst nightmares.

These children frequently experience failing grades on such tasks and over time develop strategies to hide their embarrassment and shame. Many children with print-based disabilities avoid doing assigned work by finding ways to leave class or being absent from school.This accumulation of prolonged failure can result in a cascade of negative effects that impact academic achievement as well as social and emotional development.

'One size fits all' is no longer effective in America's inclusive classrooms.❞

Traditional teaching practices, such as sustained silent reading periods and assessing knowledge through chapter tests, do not demonstrate an understanding of what works to support children with dyslexia. “One size fits all” is no longer effective in America’s inclusive classrooms. Instruction must be differentiated and assessments redesigned to accurately measure the understanding of material by all students. Helping children with dyslexia requires that educators provide instruction and assessments that reduce reading and writing demands and allow the necessary time for all children to complete them.

Helping Children with Dyslexia

E ven with new research and additional information about dyslexia, several issues make identification of dyslexia difficult. Understanding these issues and how to intervene effectively can significantly impact the outcomes for children with dyslexia .

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The Silent Reading Dilemma and What Can Be Done About It

R esearch indicates that students with reading deficits need to dramatically increase their exposure to print. Unfortunately, students with poor reading skills are significantly less likely to read than their peers and therefore spend very little time with print. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent reading each day and reading achievement.

To increase reading time, many schools adopted sustained silent reading programs  during which students read independently for a specific period of time, usually 15 to 20 minutes. Although educators know that struggling readers need to spend more time reading in order to increase exposure to words, there is a dilemma. When students have deficits in basic reading skills that require remediation, they are typically unable to obtain information from text that they must read themselves. For students with dyslexia, reading silently is often a frustrating experience that yields limited results and puts them even further behind. This time is much better spent by allowing students to receive targeted interventions or to use assistive technology to access information from print.

Instructional Practices and Accomodations for Helping Children with Dyslexia

T eachers are skilled at incorporating new instructional strategies to meet the needs of the students in their classrooms, but may not always be familiar with specific supports for students with dyslexia. This list of options for use in whole-class instruction (Tier 1) may be helpful in the process of improving reading outcomes for these students.

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