What is Dyslexia?

The SEND Code of Practice 2015, states that “specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning”. This is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of learning differences. These include dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

The term dyslexia is derived from two Greek words, ‘dys’ meaning ‘difficulty’ and ‘lexia’ from the root ‘lexis’ meaning ‘words or language’. The literal meaning is therefore ‘difficulty with words’.

Despite considerable scientific and educational research, there remains a wide variety of terminology and definitions of dyslexia. Worldwide there is no single, commonly accepted definition or agreed cause.

Teaching Tips for Dyslexia

1. Praise Gives Power Criticism Kills

A person with dyslexia needs a boost to their self-confidence before they can learn to overcome their difficulties. They have already experienced failure and deep down they often don’t believe they are capable of learning. To re-establish self-confidence provide the opportunity to succeed and give praise for small achievements

2. Don’t ask person with dyslexia to read aloud

Words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.

3. Don’t use the word ‘lazy’

People with dyslexia have to work harder to produce a smaller amount. They will have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.

4. Expect less written work

A person with dyslexia may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing.

Allow more time for reading, listening and understanding.

5. Do not ask them to copy text from a board or book

Give a printout. Suggest they highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.

9. Background colours

Use buff, cream or pastel colours for backgrounds on computer screens, handouts etc. These colours have been found to be the easiest for dyslexic children to read from. The most difficult to read is black print on a white background.

6. Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood

Visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help someone with dyslexia remember.

7. Give the opportunity to answer questions orally

Often people with dyslexia can demonstrate their understanding with a spoken answer but are unable with to put those ideas in writing.

8. Using slower speech and simple sentences

People with dyslexia may need a longer time to process information, so use pauses when speaking to give them time.

10. Colours

Use blue, brown, red, green or purple board markers rather than black – these may be easier for some children to read. Use colour to separate key information written on the whiteboard /interactive board e.g. write lines or key information in different colours; use colour to separate sections and highlight ideas.

11. Fonts

Use sans serif fonts eg Comic Sans, Arial, Verdana, Century Gothic. These are easier to read as they don’t have the fiddly bits on the end of characters. Comic Sans and Century Gothic avoid the confusion between ‘a’ and ‘a’. Times New Roman is not particularly easy to read for people with dyslexia. Also use a suitable size font, 14 pt is ideal for most pupils but some may require larger.

12. Use examples and visual representations

Using visual presentations, PowerPoint projects, poster boards and discussions to help a pupil participate and to aid comprehension. Providing worksheets, writing frames or mind maps helps to organize information for writing tasks.