Classroom accommodations

Getting Started

When it comes to learning, every child needs her own tool kit. The tool kit that standard learners carry around includes their skills for reading, spelling, and handwriting. But as you know, the dyslexic child is going to need a different set of tools.

There’s an existing legacy in which eye reading is considered to be the best way to learn, and consequently all children have to learn how to thrive in this system. Before you head into your child’s school and demand accommodations, you need to know what is available. Your child’s accommodation tool kit needs to support a learning environment that can change with the times and be adaptable. This means we need to look to digitization, using both hardware and software to accommodate dyslexic learners.

It’s important to look at your own anxieties about technology and figure out whether they have to do with your own nervousness about new things or whether they come from your child. Nine times out of ten, children are excited to try out new technologies, especially if a device gives children an opportunity to put down an unfair burden that they have been carrying. Familiarize yourself with the options listed here, and then make a list of the ones that you think will have to be included in your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). You can also begin to familiarize your child with these tools by starting to use them at home. That way, you’ll know which ones are the most successful before you begin to make requests from your school.

Kinesthetic Learner?

Many students who are highly visual or kinesthetic like to work on a whiteboard. Learning mathematics where you can scrawl out information and draw pictures about it is often more useful than sitting with a small worksheet. This can be higher-tech if you like, such as using a Smart Board that integrates into a computer. Or you can go low-tech, simply putting blank sheets of paper on a wall and allowing your child to draw ideas as part of the process of learning and communication. Similarly, for students who are kinesthetic, being able to play with objects can greatly improve their learning.

Incorporating motion into learning is extremely helpful. This may involve creating a dance that is associated with a specific concept—for example, understanding the history of plate tectonics by moving around the room in the way the continents shifted. Three-dimensional models can also be integrated as a way to communicate learning.

Simple behavioral accommodations for home and classroom can also be extremely helpful to kinesthetic students who are dyslexic. For example, those with ADHD in addition to being dyslexic often benefit from permission to stand up and politely walk to the back of the class while the teacher is still teaching, or to play with a squeeze ball in their hand. These simple steps can allow them to work off a little bit of energy while still bringing their attention back to the main activity.

Eye-reading methods

For dyslexic children, the most useful method for teaching reading is the Orton-Gillingham (OG) method. Samuel Orton, the grandfather of dyslexia research, and Anna Gillingham, a psychologist and educator, created this model in the 1930s.

A high-quality, in-person teacher is the best “delivery system” for these teaching methods, though online learning is also an option. Our recommendation for the best home resource for Orton-Gillingham-based teaching is the one offered by Verticy Learning.

OG will not turn children with dyslexia into standard readers; it is more likely to help your child develop a somewhat stilted process for doing what other people do fluidly. The best path to learning for dyslexic children is to use an Orton-Gillingham-based reading method for the first two to three years after having been identified, while simultaneously employing the best accommodation technologies available.