Sequencing, as I pointed out in my previous blog post is almost beyond some of these very intelligent dyslexic children. They have a big problem trying to understand the days of the week and the months in a year. Questions like, “What day comes after Tuesday and what month comes after March?” can baffle them. They may not know the difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow.
These are difficult concepts but with patience we can overcome these difficulties. Continuously use the words ‘today, yesterday and tomorrow’ and in time they will grasp the meaning.
As for the days of the week I suggest that you teach this during non study time. Start off by saying today is Monday (or whatever day it may be). Yesterday you did not go to school because yesterday was Sunday. On Sunday’s we go to church. Tomorrow is Tuesday. On Tuesdays we have football training (or whatever he does on Tuesdays.) Monday is the first day of school.Friday is the last day of school.You don't go to school on Saturdays and Sundays. On what day does your birthday fall on? Look at the calendar and say what day his birthday falls on this year. You can continue with the calendar and ask him questions such as “When is Hari Raya? On what day does Christmas fall in this year? Just continue this at every opportunity you get and soon he will get this too. On Tuesday you begin with today is Tuesday and yesterday was Monday and so on. The important point is that you can do this outside his studying time. This will therefore not take up his studying time.
You could also teach him how to spell the days of the week while driving him to school. Spelling one word a day is good enough. Write it on a piece of paper and ask him to learn how to spell. He’d know how to spell all the days of the week within a week or two.
Explain that Wed-nes-day is pronounced Wens-day. Make a joke as to why they say one thing and spell another way. This is very important because this will make him realize that it is not he who is the problem but it is the English language. When I tell them this their face literally lights up. They have been called ‘stupid’ by their classmates and they believe this as they cannot read as well as their classmates. However, now when I tell them that the English language is not logical and they (the dyslexic kids) are logical and that is why they cannot understand how to read they get their self esteem back and feel very confident. They begin to realize that they are not ‘stupid’ after all. I want to stress this point – initially every time you come across a word where the letters do not correspond with the sound it makes, criticize the language and this will boost his ego. When a dyslexic begins to realize that English is not logical and that he has to just learn most words as sight words he begins to learn at a much faster rate. Impress upon him not to make sense of the spelling and the sound.
I know there will be many out there who will not agree with my method above. They will argue about rules and exceptions and whatnot. They will argue that we should not give them the wrong idea and teach them wrong things. To that my answer is that the children will grow up and find out the beauty of the English language. They will not grudge me for telling a ‘lie’. After all don’t we tell children that Santa Claus is a man in red who lives in the North Pole and climbs down the chimney with presents in the night. Children do grow up and they learn the truth and they continue telling the same Santa Claus ‘lies’ to their children. Come to think about it what I am saying is not as bad a ‘lie’ as the Santa Claus story. My aim is to dispel the belief that he is stupid – the idea that has been planted in his mind by his classmates and sometimes by the teachers themselves. To stress my point- once a dyslexic kid believes that he is smart and that the problem lies in the English language and not him he progresses very fast.
Once the child is familiar with the names of the day , start working on the sequence. “What is the first day of school? What day comes after that? What day is before Monday?”
Coming back to where I left off you can use any one of the mnemonic below to help him remember the days of the week. The first letter of each word represents the first letter of the day of the week. Just pick one and teach him to understand what mnemonic is and he will learn the days of the week a little faster. You have to underline the first letter in each word below for him to actually see what you mean by mnemonic.
1- My tortoise wants to fry sea shells.
2- My teacher wants to fight seven serpents/swans.
3- Mr. ‘T’ wants to find some space/spade/stamp.
See you on Monday.