How to Improve Dyslexia in the Classroom for All Ages

July 21, 2021

Dyslexia affects 10% of people in the UK. In 2002, the Task Group reported that most systems for Dyslexia were underdeveloped and required a transformation. Almost 20 years later and there are subtle improvements for Dyslexia in the classroom — but it’s not perfect. 

As experts in education, we’ve put together a guide with top tips to help parents and teachers navigate dyslexia. We’ll discuss the current methods, what works best and simple ways to ensure children’s learning needs are met. Let’s get to it.

Does Dyslexia affect learning ability?

The long and short of it is: yes. Research shows that many pupils with dyslexia will fall behind their peers, specifically in literacy tests, as a stand-out sign of dyslexia is slow reading progress. One study found that on average GCSE grades and A-Levels grades are lower than non-dyslexics. 

Dyslexia is characterised by “letter jumbling” making it difficult to interpret or recognise shapes of the letters and words. Naturally this affects reading and spelling ability. Studies show that reading times are generally slower for dyslexic students; their visual system (eyes) takes longer to communicate information to the brain’s left hemisphere.

Students might then struggle with reading comprehension tasks, vocabulary learning and essay writing. This is because it can be hard to write out their thoughts and structure them in a coherent way. 

What methods are used for Dyslexia in the Classroom?

Generally, there are different methods used for each age group and learning level to maximise support. The Department of Education recommends that all methods are personalised to the individual. Dyslexia affects people in different ways; therefore they need specific tools tailored to them. 

For the most part, schools are encouraged to give students with dyslexia extra time in exams or classroom activities. This helps to reduce the stress and anxiety felt by pupils with dyslexia in response to pressure to compete with the standards and expectations.

One of the fascinating things about dyslexia is that the brain’s right hemisphere (creative side of the brain) is very active. So dyslexic pupils should make more use of visual techniques to improve their learning. For example, drawing pictures for notes or using colour coding.

Some schools have a trained 1:1 SEN teacher to support students with dyslexia in the classroom. However, not all schools have the funding or resources to offer this. Always check with your school about their policy and mechanisms in place.

10 Tips for improving Dyslexia in the Classroom

Whether homeschooling or in the classroom, these are simple tips that can be easily implemented into a teaching strategy. We’ve taken some from the International Dyslexia Association. We also spoke with our Dyslexia tutors to reveal their top tips. 

Don’t draw attention to the label: avoid assigning labels like “dyslexia” or “dyslexic” as they seem negative. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and pupils with dyslexia will always think they’re incapable.

Give praise and boost their self-image: everyone needs an ego boost. Make sure your child knows when they’ve achieved something so they feel special and motivated.

Record lessons: let students record lessons or the teacher reading from a textbook. This will help with comprehension and avoid any misinterpretation of the text. It also helps with note-taking and retaining information.

Use visual teaching techniques: remember that mindmaps, videos and picture cards are much more effective for students with dyslexia. It will engage them more too!

Find a Dyslexia tutor: 30 pupils in a classroom and only one teacher is not the most effective approach — especially for those with learning difficulties. At Tutor House we have dyslexia tutors who are trained and qualified to teach, equipped with secret skills. They can help develop a personalised and unique plan to improve learning ability. This works as a homeschool option or an extension of school tuition.

Scan/copy other students’ notes: there’s no better way than to learn from others. If note-taking is quite taxing, this helps students with dyslexia absorb information and their attention in class.

Make use of technology: any assistive tools like tablets, electronic readers, audio books etc. are really beneficial. For example, students can “read along” with an audio version using headphones.

Block out distracting stimuli: when sharing handouts, only show the important information or task at hand. Cover the low-priority sections or visual elements on the page with a piece of white paper or book. This improves the individual’s focus and attention.

Arrange after school reading clubs: extend learning with a reading or spelling club. Invite other parents to attend so that they can aid their children’s progress and understand how important their role is.

Develop a school policy: recognise the problem and those affected, then educate other kids about dyslexia. This prevents bullying, name-calling or ignorance to create a more friendly learning environment. 

Save and share

Hopefully we’ve provided you with some key takeaways to improve dyslexia in the classroom. Make sure to share this with other parents, teachers and students alike to keep updated! If you, or anyone you know, struggles with dyslexia, you're not alone. There's a plethora of resources and supportive communities out there, such as the Dyslexia Research Trust, which provides the most up-to-date research on the subject in an accessible, user-friendly manner. Together, we can make the learning space much more inclusive and ensure everyone gets top-quality education.

Looking for a Dyslexia tutor?

Students with dyslexia can sometimes feel overwhelmed and helpless. We’ve worked with hundreds of individuals from all ages who used to struggle at school. Now, they’re thriving; reaching top grades and applying for university. With the help of a dyslexia tutor, your child can exceed expectations and go beyond their learning potential. Browse our list of tutors and start your personalised 1:1 learning journey. Let’s give your child the education they deserve.

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Naida Allen

Naida is a witty wordsmith with a love for writing and reading. She is a Content Writer and Social Media Executive at Tutor House — the top UK provider of online and in-person tuition. She specialises in topics relating to mental & physical wellbeing and career advice.

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