Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How I teach my dyslexic students - Part 2


On the first day, a student comes to me I try and encourage the child to speak as much as possible. I ask him his name and continue a discussion with him. Most of my students have no problem talking about themselves, their friends, school and family.

When I begin teaching I tell him to read from left to right. I never take it for granted that he should know this simple step. From experience, I have learned to place a one-inch wide heavy paper below the sentence he reads. The length of the heavy paper is about the width of the book. I teach him to slide the heavy paper downwards at the end of the line. This way he will not miss a line. After a few months, I find that he does not need the heavy paper and I teach him to read without missing a line by placing his left index finger at the beginning of the sentence he is reading and moving it down when he reaches the end of the line. A few months later he is capable of reading without using heavy paper or his left index finger.

Initially, because his reading is ‘jerky’, as he hesitates to read a word, I find his comprehension is poor. As such I read the whole page the first time and after that, I ask him to read a sentence at a time after me. I also stop intermittently to explain the story and ask him questions about what we have read. Sometimes I ask him to guess what he thinks will happen next.

Over the years I have noticed that these children like to flick through the pages while looking at all the pictures in the book. As such I give them a few minutes each time I introduce a book. I let them get a ‘feel’ of the story they are about to read.

When a word is pronounced wrongly I list it down in an exercise book. I draw three columns vertically beside the word. Each day when he comes to class I go through the list of words with him. I ask him to watch my mouth and tell him where I place my tongue and ask him to observe my lips as I pronounce the word. I do this with him at the beginning of each class adding more words that he finds difficult to pronounce as we go. When he can pronounce a word correctly I place a tick against the word in the first column. When he gets it correct again the next day I place a tick on the second column and once the third column is ticked I cancel the whole line. Each day I test the word only about 3 to 5 times and move on to the next word. Students who initially find it difficult to pronounce can pronounce the words after a short while. As such you don’t have to go to a speech therapist as soon as you find your child is unable to pronounce a certain word. Try this before you decide to take him for therapy. Just this simple method may solve the pronunciation problem.

I have another exercise book for each student where I write words for which he does not know the meaning. I write the meaning against the word and ask him for the word by giving the meaning of the word beginning from the next lesson. When he knows the word I then give him the word and ask him for the meaning from the following lesson. I keep doing this until he knows the word.

I write down 3 Dolch words in yet another exercise book and ask him to learn how to spell the words when he comes for his next lesson and add another 3 words each day. I also have 3 columns where I tick off each time he can spell the word correctly. I keep asking him to spell the words he cannot spell until he gets all 220 Dolch words correct.

I find that once he knows his Dolch words and has learned the phonics words introduced in my lessons he can read well within six months to a year of one-on- one tuition.

An important thing is to read only age-appropriate or grade-appropriate books for him to read. I sometimes read books where the vocabulary may be a little higher but this is only for his listening pleasure and not for him to read. I explain words that he may not understand.

To summarize, from the second lesson onward:
  • I ask him to pronounce the words he does not know how to pronounce.
  • I read the whole story.
  • I read the story sentence by sentence and asked him to read after me.
  • I ask him the meanings of words in my list and record new words from that day's reading.
  • Read the story again and ask him to tell me the story.
  • Ask him to spell the Dolch words he has learned.
Reading is a critical skill and the love of reading can be easily developed if you read daily to a dyslexic child. A dyslexic child must be encouraged to read a few pages each day and daily a parent should read a few pages to his child. Soon you will see him sitting by himself and reading a book he likes.

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