When it comes to teaching dyslexic students to read, the Orton Gillingham approach is one of the oldest and one of the best researched for dyslexia reading programs. This program was developed in the 1930s by Samuel Torrey Orton and Anna Gillingham and is most often used because of its effectiveness. Some teachers like using the Multi-sensory Structured Language [MSL] approach when helping teach dyslexic students how to read. This method is often used most for teaching children with dyslexia and it is beneficial for all children. MSL will teach phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and accuracy in writing and spelling.
The student is encouraged to use tough, sight, movement, and sound as a part of this learning process. Through these programs teachers and parents can receive MSL training and certification. When teaching dyslexic students to read BE direct and explicit.
Explicit means teaching including describing, modeling, breaking the skills down into steps, providing clear instructions and feedback, providing demonstrations, and presenting all the information in a logical order.
While this may be a tedious step it will greatly help the dyslexic student to understand. These steps and process must be done until the student masters the skill. Never assume that the student has any previous knowledge or understanding of the subject matter.
It is far better to have to repeat a few steps when teaching a dyslexic student how to read than to forge ahead and have them not understand the material.
When teaching dyslexic students how to read be sure to repeat yourself often. Some dyslexic children struggle with short term memory so they may have difficulty remembering what you said. Be sure to take extra time to repeat the instructions, key words, and concepts so they will be more likely to remember what you said and write it down.
As you build these new skills continue to use any previously learned information. The repetition will help reinforce older skills.
When teaching a dyslexic student how to read you will want to use something known as “diagnostic teaching.” Be sure to continuously assess how well your student understands what’s being taught. If something is not understood you should re-teach the skill. Students with dyslexia, when learning how to read, may require more time and intense instruction to learn.
When teaching dyslexic students how to read you may have to modify your teaching approach as something may be caught on quickly while another takes some time. Be sure to use time wisely when working with dyslexic students. Avoid rushing through a lesson as this can confuse them and not make the information stick. During your time of teaching dyslexic students how to read, DO your best to stick to a daily routine. If you can write down and illustrate each day’s lesson on the wall so the students can see what they can expect each day.
These routines should include information from previous lessons to help reinforce the lessons. Be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement when helping dyslexic students. Children with dyslexia may suffer from low self-esteem or feel that they are not as smart as their classmates. Because of this it is very important to build them up and to use positive reinforcement. There are some programs that are NOT meant for teaching dyslexic students how to read. This is NOT saying that these programs are bad or ineffective but they are not equipped or meant for teaching dyslexic students how to read. These programs are:
- Sylvan Learning
- Hooked on Phonics
- Reading Recovery
- Accelerated Reader
- Vision Therapy
- Brain Gym
- Special Diets
Don’t be afraid to experiment around on what works the best for teaching dyslexic students how to read. With a little work you will find what works best for teaching dyslexic students how to read!