As many as one in five children are dyslexic. That’s a significant number of children in our classrooms across the country, so spotting dyslexia early is key and may help to change outcomes.
The British Dyslexia Association has adopted the Rose (2009 - [ARCHIVED CONTENT] (nationalarchives.gov.uk)) definition of dyslexia, which states that:
“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.”
Kate Griggs is the founder and CEO of the global charity Made by Dyslexia, whose mission is to help the world properly understand and value dyslexia. The charity seeks to empower teachers to spot, support and empower every dyslexic pupil in their class. “In partnership with Microsoft,” Griggs explained, “Made by Dyslexia launched Connect the Spots which is a global campaign aiming to get every teacher in the world trained in dyslexia awareness using their free online training course.” The level one training is on dyslexia awareness and seeks to equip teachers and parents with the essentials to spot and support dyslexia. The level two course seeks to help teachers to deepen their understanding of dyslexia and covers specialist strategies, helping teachers to explore “what to teach, why it helps and how to do it.”
As identified by the World Economic Forum, dyslexic children have the skills needed for the jobs of the future. Unfortunately, as many as 80% of dyslexics leave school unidentified. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to raise our awareness of dyslexia and redefine the way we view dyslexia to incorporate more positive interpretations. We can celebrate dyslexia and utilise the strengths it can give children.
Every teacher probably has more than one dyslexic pupil in their class. Whether we are aware of it or not we are teaching dyslexic children. Yet the vast majority of dyslexic children are not receiving specialist support. If we want children to develop skills such as resilience and independence in their learning, we need to change this, and acknowledge that it just might be time to up our game when it comes to the inclusion of children with dyslexia. After all, no one suffers if we support dyslexic learners.
Five ways to support children with dyslexia in your classroom
Kate Griggs offers five key strategies for supporting children with dyslexia in your school:
- Look for strengths: Look for the strengths in children with dyslexia. What can they do rather than what can’t they do? Work with their strengths as you support their needs.
- Use tech: Use technology as much as possible; it can make a huge difference to dyslexic learners. Allow children to make videos of their work, to type instead of handwrite notes and to take photographs of work on the board rather than copying it down. This can help children to feel a greater sense of autonomy over their work. If tech helps a child, use it!
- Big picture learning: Give children the big picture of the learning before the start of every lesson. They need to know the context of what the whole lesson is about.
- Keep it positive: Praise, praise, praise! It is so important to praise children who are not used to that in the classroom. What are they achieving? What extraordinary successes are they having?
- Support one, support all: Remember that what is good for the dyslexic children that you teach will be good for everyone in your classroom. Any measures or strategies that support children with dyslexia will support all children in your classroom.
Find out more…
- The BookTrust has a dyslexia friendly reading list, categorized by interest level age and reading age: Dyslexia | BookTrust
- Kate Griggs’ new book, This is Dyslexia, is released on 7th October, published by Penguin. It explores how dyslexia has shaped our past and how harnessing its strengths is vital to our future.
- Made by Dyslexia: Made By Dyslexia – Redefining Dyslexia
- Connect the Spots free dyslexia training: Dyslexia Training, in partnership with Made By Dyslexia - Microsoft Educator Center
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.