Supporting children with dyslexia

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Supporting children with dyslexia

In support of World Dyslexia Awareness Week taking place on Monday 2 October until Thursday 5 October Pulse Education has written this brief overview of some of the challenges someone with dyslexia can experience.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that impacts reading and spelling skills. It has nothing to do with intelligence; it simply describes a different kind of cognitive processing which is unique to each individual. We’ve researched how teachers can help to support young people in their classrooms with dyslexia. It is by no means a definitive list of challenges or indeed their strengths. It is simply a guide to how teachers offer additional support.

Potential dyslexia traits:

  • Difficulty processing the spoken word at speed or listening
  • Background noise can be distracting
  • Multitasking is harder
  • Stress affects working memory
  • Slower word retrieval meaning they cannot always make speedy contributions in class, even when they know the answer
  • Reading and memorising takes longer. A young person may experience the text “moving” or “blurring” when they read, requiring them to read something two or three times in order for it to make sense
  • Reading aloud is more difficult as it requires linking about the sound of a word. It can be teamed up with a fear of failure in front of other people, therefore increasing stress
  • Difficulty remembering what words look like
  • Difficulty hearing sounds - similar sounds cause confusion
  • Writing, note taking and spelling can be difficult
  • Organisational problems including getting ideas down on to paper in a sequence
  • Difficulty sequencing and performing rote memory tasks e.g. maths facts


  • While young people with dyslexia may struggle with detail, they are often good at seeing “the bigger picture” which makes them good at seeing patterns and trends
  • Good problem solvers. They can often “think outside the box”
  • People with dyslexia are often very creative
  • They are often very social and show empathy
  • They are often observant
  • They are picture thinkers
  • They often have good reasoning skills with an ability to use what they have experienced, or what they know to acquire knowledge to make connections

How can I support a child with dyslexia?

Delivery and presentation:

  • Slow down your speech and simplify your sentence structure
  • Teach in small chunks - take pauses to give children thinking time
  • Talk things over to help formulate ideas
  • Use visual cues/ pictures and stories to help highlight important ideas. Help young people to learn how to use visualisation to make pictures in their heads
  • Use direct language to reduce the information being deciphered
  • The young person with dyslexia should sit within your peripheral vision so that they can pick up on non-verbal cues
  • If you give verbal instructions, make sure they are remembered
  • Use praise over criticism and encouragement to boost self-confidence. Don’t over correct
  • Don’t ask a young person with dyslexia to read aloud unless they want to

Consider different learning styles:

  • Clearly mark resources with pictures as well as words
  • Have an alphabet strip and number square on each table to cut down on memory work when working with younger children
  • Display the key topic words, date, day on the whiteboard
  • Avoid setting rote learning exercises for anything, timetables, scientific formulae, French vocabulary
  • Allow extra time for reading activities
  • Don’t ask a child with dyslexia to copy down instructions for homework. This requires looking at the word, memorising it and recording it, all of which are difficult for a young person with dyslexia
  • Ideally provide written instructions for a task or homework
  • Present written information as concisely as possible
  • Use bullet points, flow charts or diagrams wherever possible
  • Use fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Comic sans
  • Use a font size of 12 or more
  • Use double spacing and always leave a line between paragraphs
  • Headings and important points should be in bold or highlighted to make it easier to scan for important information
  • Teach by providing direct experiences where possible
  • Give plenty of time to practice listening activities
  • Use strengths. Young people with dyslexia are often very creative. Use other ways of recording and discussing e.g mind mapping or diagrams
  • Provide laptops, apps, voice recorders, spell check and grammar checks to help get ideas down and to self-correct
  • Touch-typing instead of handwriting can help because it allows spelling to be learned by the muscles in the hands and translated as a sequence of key-strokes
  • If there are a lot of miss-spellings only highlight the higher frequency words. Remember, we are trying to boost self-confidence and there is nothing more devastating for a child than to open their book to see it covered in red pen
  • Help a young person develop strategies that work for them and then help them to use them

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