Do you suspect that your child has dyslexia-related learning difficulties? Before taking them to a ...
Teaching for Dyslexia: Strategies to Help Your Child Flourish
Many children with dyslexia experience persistent challenges with reading, writing or speech. Considering how strongly Singaporean culture emphasises education, these learning challenges can have a profound impact on a child’s academic and emotional life.
Fortunately, psychologists and educational specialists have developed effective teaching strategies that help children with dyslexia unlock their learning potential. Here, we unpack key teaching strategies that help your child flourish. But to understand how these strategies work, we must first explore how dyslexia impacts learning.
Why children with dyslexia experience learning challenges
Children with dyslexia struggle to decode words. This is because successfully decoding words requires proficiency in a variety of skills. To read and understand this article, for example, you need to access semantic skills that help you comprehend the meaning and context of each word. At the same time, you’re monitoring the syntax for each sentence — this helps you build meaning from grammar and sentence structure.
The skills required for successful reading, writing, spelling and punctuation range from phonology (sound processing and usage) to morphology (unpacking word structure and meaning). Think of it this way: these many language processing skills are like puzzle pieces. Combining the right puzzle pieces is key to creating a clear picture. Often, students with dyslexia find it difficult to combine these skills, resulting in common dyslexia symptoms like slow reading.
With this in mind, let’s unpack some proven strategies that can help students overcome their dyslexia-related learning challenges.
Choose the right type of interventions
The right early intervention strategies go a long way towards helping students with dyslexia thrive in school. Thomson Kids' curriculum is specifically designed to help dyslexia children develop their reading and writing skills, thus maximising their learning potential.
The centre adopts a differentiated curriculum for English and Chinese language, developed by a team of experienced experts in psychology, speech therapy and special needs education.
Designed to help students struggling in mainstream schools, the curriculum is closely aligned with MOE’s current syllabus. This enables students to apply what they’ve learnt when doing homework and tests in school.
But in comparison to traditional classroom learning, lessons are made engaging through multi-sensory activities, coupled with specialised material and research-based teaching methods.
One such teaching approach is the well-regarded Orton Gillingham method, which educates students on the connection between letters and sounds. Once they grasp the consistent rules and patterns behind reading, they are able to decode words on their own.
How Specialised Curriculums Help Students With Dyslexia Achieve Their Learning Goals
Teaching for dyslexia requires a holistic strategy that helps children sharpen each language skill. Many dyslexia intervention programmes adopt the following strategies:
- Structured literacy — this systematic teaching method gives students a solid foundation of the core linguistic skills needed to identify and decode words.
With its proven track record, many programmes use the Orton-Gillingham Approach: a set of teaching practices within the structured literacy umbrella. This approach uses multisensory techniques that combine sight, hearing, touch and movement into everyday instruction. The Orton-Gillingham Approach also stresses the importance of student wellness. For many students who associate their anxiety with education, this approach is crucial to inspiring a passion for their studies.
- Bite-sized learning — also called microlearning, bite-sized learning involves teaching small, manageable chunks of information at a time. This helps students to maintain focus while encouraging active involvement in the learning process.
While this approach is useful for students with lower attention spans, it also helps students move through lessons without feeling overloaded.
- Tailored learning — as we all learn differently, students with dyslexia have different learning goals at different points in their journey. Effective teaching means tailoring your curriculum to each learner’s needs. This is especially true for students with additional learning challenges that aren’t related to dyslexia.
Another aspect of tailored learning is to adapt or create educational material that feels relevant to students. This improves engagement by helping students feel connected to their lessons.
- Teaching to improve exam skills — exams are stressful for most students. But the time constraints and added pressure of taking an exam can have a disproportionate effect on the performance of students with dyslexia.
The right intervention programme will focus on teaching students how to independently answer questions. This includes instilling the skills and answering techniques required to tackle all components of English and Chinese language examinations.
How Thomson Kids Teaches for Dyslexia
Dyslexia is still widely misunderstood in Singapore. Despite the educational system’s promise to support students with dyslexia, most schools lack the experience and expertise to adequately teach for dyslexia — as revealed by a recent doctoral thesis published by the University of London.
At Thomson Kids, we offer tailored Chinese and English programmes that unlock the learning potential of children with dyslexia. Our team of child psychologists, curriculum writers and special needs teachers work closely to develop our curriculum and create our own teaching materials. This allows our teachers to adapt lessons to the needs of each child and to create educational material that inspires engagement.
The first step of our approach is to accurately diagnose each child’s learning challenges. After analysing the results, we enrol the student with the right learning programme and adapt teaching methods to their needs.
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