A Dyslexic Child in the Classroom

A Guide for Teachers and Parents

Patricia Hodge, Dip.spld (dyslexia) © 2000

Image by Sophia via stock.xchngProficient reading is an essential tool for learning a large part of the subject matter taught at school. With an ever increasing emphasis on education and literacy, more and more children and adults are needing help in learning to read, spell, express their thoughts on paper and acquire adequate use of grammar.

A dyslexic child who finds the acquisition of these literacy skills difficult can also suffer a lot of anguish and trauma when they may feel mentally abused by their peers within the school environment, because they have a learning difficulty. Much can be done to alleviate this by integrating the child into the class environment (which is predominantly a learning environment) where he/she can feel comfortable and develop confidence and self esteem.

Class teachers may be particularly confused by the student whose consistent underachievement seems due to what may look like carelessness or lack of effort.

These children can be made to feel very different from their peers simply because they may be unable to follow simple instructions, which for others seem easy. It is a class teacher’s responsibility to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for all pupils within their class.

Class teachers need to have an understanding of the problems that the dyslexic child may have within the classroom situation. Hopefully, with this knowledge, a great deal of misunderstanding of a child’s behaviour can be prevented. In a positive and encouraging environment, a dyslexic child will experience the feeling of success and self-value.

Of particular importance is an understanding of the problems that poor auditory short term memory can cause, in terms of retaining input from the teacher.

Examples of poor auditory short term memory can be a difficulty in remembering the sounds in spoken words long enough to match these, in sequence, with letters for spelling. Often children with poor auditory short term memory cannot remember even a short list of instructions.

The following items should provide useful guidelines for teachers and parents to follow and support :


In the class
Copying from the blackboard


In order to be able to teach, as far as possible, according to each child’s educational needs, it is essential to see him or her as a whole person, complete with individual strengths and weaknesses.

An understanding of the pupil’s specific difficulties, and how they may affect the student’s classroom performance, can enable the teacher to adopt teaching methods and strategies to help the dyslexic child to be successfully integrated into the classroom environment.

Dyslexics have many strengths: oral skills, comprehension, good visual spatial awareness/artistic abilities. More and more dyslexic children could become talented and gifted members of our schools if we worked not only with their specific areas of difficulty, but also their specific areas of strengths from an early age. To do this we have to let go of outmoded viewpoints that a dyslexic child must first fail, in order to be identified.

These are the children of our future and they have a right to help and support before they develop the dreadful sense of failure which is so insidious.

Class teachers dealing with dyslexic children need to be flexible in their approach, so that they can, as far as possible, find a method that suits the pupil, rather than expecting that all pupils will learn in the same way.

Above all, there must be an understanding from all who teach them, that they may have many talents and skills. Their abilities must not be measured purely on the basis of their difficulties in acquiring literacy skills. Dyslexic children, like all children, thrive on challenges and success.


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  • Blanca Guio

    My son has dyslexia and is current receiving therapy for his dyslexia. They use the Orton Gillingham approach . He goes to a Catholic school which I feel they don accommodate his (IEP). He comes home frustrated and doesn’t want to do any school work. I really don’t know what to do. I have talked to his teacher
    and resource teacher and they say they are helping my son. Though I get a different feeling about that. I don’t know if I should pull him out of school and send him to a public school.. I work for CPS and I don’t feel that they are always accommodating as well. I feel like my hands are tied. My son has being going to the private school for 4 years. I feel that pulling him out now would be detrimental. On top of the problem that he had to endure everyday, his difficulty in school and reading.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Blanca, you might consider a different approach. Orton-Gillingham is widely considered a standard approach for dyslexia, but it is slow and painstaking, and doesn’t seem to work for many dyslexics. When I was researching my book, The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Dyslexia, I had a tough time finding statistical information to support the approach, even though it is so widely used. It is a remedial approach that focuses intensely on the student’s area of weakness, which can seem like a logical way to help, but can be very frustrating and demoralizing for the student.

      Our approach – Davis Dyslexia Correction – is very different and is a strength-based approach. That is, rather than trying to tutor and drill the child in phonetic decoding strategies (an area of weakness) – we teach the student to use their inherent creative mental strengths and follow a more holistic approach to reading, emphasizing word meaning and appearance and building whole word recognition through mastery of sight words. We typically see a major boost in self-esteem in children who complete a Davis program, and very commonly see dramatic increases in reading ability and confidence level in the course of a program week. I would encourage you to explore the possibility of a Davis program.

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