Are your teaching methods not working with your dyslexic child? Maybe you need to shake it up! When kids with dyslexia are taught with the right methods, they learn and thrive!
This is the second post in a 5-day series, How to Teach Kids With Dyslexia to Read. Click here, to read the entire series from the beginning.
One of the most common myths about dyslexia is that people with dyslexia are lacking in intelligence. This is absolutely not true. People with dyslexia have average to above-average intelligence. I have often said that dyslexia is less of a learning disability and more of a teaching disability.
Homeschooling affords families the freedom to teach all of their kids the way they learn best. It also allows for families to harness the power of personal interests to inspire learning. When kids with dyslexia are taught with the right methods, they learn and thrive!
So How Do Kids With Dyslexia Learn?
Most dyslexic learners are right-brain dominant. To understand this you need to know a little bit about brain structure.
The brain is made up of two halves or hemispheres – the right brain and the left brain. These are connected to each other by a thick cable of nerves at the base of each brain called the corpus callosum.
A good analogy is that of two separate, incredibly fast and immensely powerful computers, each running different programs from the same input, connected by a network cable.
Most scientists agree that there are definite differences in the way each hemisphere of the brain works. Essentially, the right brain deals with emotions, feelings, creativity, and intuition. The left brain is linear, logical, and focuses on one thing at a time.
The Different Functions of the Right and Left Hemispheres
Left Brain Functions
- Uses logic
- Detail oriented
- Facts rule
- Words and language
- Math and science
- Order/pattern perception
- Knows object name
- Forms strategies
Right Brain Functions
- Uses feeling
- ‘Big picture’ oriented
- Imagination rules
- Symbols and images
- Philosophy and religion
- Spatial perception
- Knows object function
- Presents possibilities
Now that we know more about the dyslexic mind, let’s consider some common teaching methods. Think back to how you were taught in school. Read the text, understand, write your answers to the comprehension questions. If you were a left-brained student like me, you loved this (and may have become a teacher or curriculum writer). Just tell me how many pages to do, ma’am! If you were a right-brained student, you likely struggled to learn and got out of school as fast as possible!
Right Brain Teaching Techniques
For a teaching method to work with a right-brained learner, it helps if those methods tap into the right-brained thinker’s natural strengths:
- Use visual resources such as whiteboard or chalkboard
- Doing subjects together in a group with lots of discussion
- In lieu of writing a paper, let students create a project (poster, comic strip, write a movie review instead of a report, etc)
- Play music during study time
- Use color and pictures on flash cards to get spelling or vocabulary words to stick
Think multi-sensory. Using as many of the senses as possible at the same time. By using multi-sesnsory teaching methods, you are tapping into more areas of the brain so learning and memory can really take place.
The Power of Interest-led Learning
When our oldest daughter was about 9 years old she developed a fascination with animals. We brought back huge stacks of library books each week on everything from becoming a vet to training rabbits to do tricks! The problem was that our daughter was not a fluent reader, nowhere near that. I had a houseful of babies and toddlers and didn’t have time to read through all of those books. What happened is a beautiful example of the power of interest-led learning. Over time, our daughter, inspired by her great desire to learn, pushed through those books – on her own. It was at this time that she really cracked the code to reading.
Think about it. if you disliked writing papers, say, but were able to choose a subject that you really enjoyed, you would be more inspired to write than if the subject assigned was of little interest. Find ways to let your kids push through their difficult subjects (reading, writing and spelling for the dyslexic) by allowing them to practice these skills on subjects that they love.
Understanding Learning Styles
Learning style is a broad term used to describe the factors that influence all aspects of learning. You may have heard the common, simplified view of learning styles as a choice of either the auditory, visual or kinesthetic pathway. While all people use every one of these pathways for learning; most people prefer one over the other. There are many factors that affect a person’s ability to learn.
Knowing the learning style of your student is important in determining how to teach them so they learn. For more information on Learning Styles – read this post Understanding Learning Styles.
Freedom For Individualization With Homeschooling
By intentionally observing your children every day with these factors in mind, you will come to know what things trigger struggles for your child. I have one daughter who simply cannot focus if there is a lot of noise in the room. I have another daughter who likes to listen to music while she does her schoolwork.
It is important to know that understanding your child’s learning style isn’t done overnight. Adjusting your homeschool to create a more effective learning environment can be done and perfected over time. However, the freedom to adapt your teaching method to your child’s individual learning style is one of the main benefits to homeschooling the dyslexic child.
If you are looking to get educated about dyslexia and how to educate, encourage and empower your kids with dyslexia, you have come to the right place.
For more information on getting started homeschooling your child with dyslexia, consider downloading my free ebook that covers things like understanding learning styles and teaching methods, how to create a positive learning environment and schedule, or how to set goals and get it all done.
For more information on specific strategies to teach your dyslexic child the way he or she learns, consider taking one of our Parent Dyslexia Classes. Classes now available are:
Teaching Reading: Methods That Work
Building Fluency and Comprehension
Or buy all 5 classes in our Foundation Bundle and receive a free download of my book, Dyslexia 101: Truths, Myths and What Really Works.
Join us here tomorrow when we will be talking about Reading Methods That Work With Dyslexia.
Stay in Touch
We have quite an active Facebook community where I frequently post articles of interest and encouragement. I also have a growing Pinterest Page with a wide variety of teaching tips for all subjects.
Hi Marianne, I am thankful to come across your website.
I read that you mentioned that “elaborate game based systems” won’t work well for children with dyslexia.
Have you seen the ‘monster phonics game’? (can be found by googling) Would you consider that game “elaborate”?
I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you so much.
Hi, Lynette. I looked at the Monster Phonics site. It is interesting but I couldn’t tell from looking at the site if they use the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading. I just did a review of Nessy Reading and Spelling which is also an online reading program and it works very well fro dyslexic kids. Here’s the link to the post: https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/nessy-reading-and-spelling-review/#
I’m the parent of an older child (12) with dyslexia who still struggles with reading. Can you recommend a program that caters to this age group? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Dawn. We LOVE the Reading Horizons Elevate program for our older kids. Here is a link to my review: https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/help-older-struggling-reader/
I am back to teaching in the Learning Center after 11 years! I have a student who is a JR. who struggles with reading fluency because of dyslexia. What are some tips that I could recommend to him to help with reading more fluently. His comprehension is good.
This post has some good ideas: