I tell parents I am in the “HOPE” business, as there is always hope for the struggling learner. Yet the caveat is that the instruction must match the learner. Consequently, additional recommendations follow.
10. Dyslexics may struggle with content area subjects as well. Therefore, differentiate your instruction – the content (objectives/input), the process (sense-making), and the product (evaluation) – to match the needs of the learner (Lynch, 2021; McCarthy, 2014; Tomilinson, 1999).
a. Content: How will you access the curriculum for your child? (McCarthy, 2014) Be creative in your delivery and how you provide access to it. Offer a vast array of opportunities and hands-on experiences. We attended field trips, took nature walks, visited museums and historical houses, attended plays, watched videos, listened to storytellers, and performed historical reenactments and science experiments. However, do not underestimate the power of direct instruction and modeling. (I am a firm believer in both. I think too many teachers assign without proper instruction.)
b. Process: How will the student make the material his own? (McCarthy, 2014) This pertains to the actual activity that will help the child ‘learn’ the material. More specifically, when learning scientific facts, some children might prefer journaling, or keeping a science log, whereas another may learn best by playing a game. When learning vocabulary words for example, Matthew would find corresponding pictures to match each word (Craft, n.d.). For additional practice, he might paint the words, make them using clay, or trace them in shaving cream. In addition, some students like to work independently, whereas others like to work with a partner or in a small group. Still, some children learn best while lying on the floor, and others may need to sit on a bouncy ball.
c. Product: How will the student demonstrate mastery? (McCarthy, 2014) Children can demonstrate mastery without using a traditional paper and pencil test. My children were encouraged to make timelines, murals, fact bags, posters, models, and mini-books. As a matter of fact, Matthew wrote and staged a “Late Night Talk Show” to demonstrate his mastery of World Geography one year! While studying the human body, my students recreated life-size bodies complete with organs made from various art supplies such as streamers, yarn, cotton balls, nylons, Styrofoam pieces, and construction paper. When studying various topography, they actually made models to illustrate the mountains, valleys, and streams. The possibilities are endless, as long as the child can show mastery of the concept or skill.
11. Remember that although dyslexia cannot be ‘fixed,’ your child is NOT broken. Therefore, embrace your child’s uniqueness. Remind him each and every day of his amazing superpowers.
12. Never give up because God NEVER fails. Trust and believe that God’s plan is still perfect for your child.
Join me next week, when I share my son’s (and my) happy ending. Please note that you might be familiar with our story from previous posts.