Everybody learns differently. If you have dyslexia your brain tends to have a more developed right side which means you learn in a more holistic rather than linear (step-by-step) way. People with right-brain dominance learn intuitively, reaching answers without necessarily knowing how they got there. They have a strong spatial awareness and an ability to see patterns rather than to understand sequences.
The key to successful studying is to play to your strengths and to develop compensatory strategies to help you overcome difficulties. Here we share some tips.
Make a list of areas you find difficult and share these with your tutor. Together you can work out useful strategies to help you. For example, ‘When I read my notes back they don’t make sense to me’, or ‘I know what I want to say but I can’t write it down’.
If reading is an area of difficulty then focus only on what is absolutely necessary. Your tutor can help you to identify the most important material. Allow plenty of time for reading in your study planning. Make use of technology where you can (see below).
You could consider visiting an optometrist who will be able to assess you for specific needs that might be affecting your reading. Scotopic sensitivity, for example, can cause print instability and visual discomfort.
Listening to text rather than reading it can be a useful strategy. You could read text into a recorded device. Even though it will take you time initially, it saves time later on. Some people find that the very act of reading aloud helps them to understand. Alternatively you could ask somebody else to record the material for you.
Spelling can be a big concern when you have dyslexia. You may forget a spelling each time you need to use it and have to spend time looking it up. Check with your tutor about what level of accuracy is required and discuss how they can help you.
Sometimes an incorrect spelling changes meaning. It’s a good idea to identify which spellings in your area of study are most important and focus your efforts on these.
You may have an excellent understanding of a topic but have difficulty organizing your knowledge into a written assignment. This might be because you lack confidence with spelling and grammar which interferes with your flow of ideas. By breaking down the writing process into stages you can help to clarify your thinking.
Break studying into manageable time slots of 20-40 minutes followed by a ten minute break. The amount of time you can concentrate will vary day-to-day depending upon how fresh and motivated you are feeling.
When we learn something new we are most likely to forget it again within the first 24 hours. That means it’s important to revisit what you have learnt within that time. You might revisit material just before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning. Decide what works best for you.
Every time you revisit material do it in a slightly different way. This will help to really embed it into your memory. For example, you might write or record questions for yourself about what you have learnt today and then answer those questions (verbally or in writing) in a slightly different order each time.
Time management is a challenge for most people but it can be even more of a problem if you are dyslexic. Be generous with the amount of time you allow yourself to give you time to develop new strategies. Discuss reasonable time allowances with your tutor.
Make yourself a timetable to plan exactly what you are going to study when. Plan in breaks and vary topics to sustain your interest and keep you motivated.
Being organized can save you lots of time and stress. Here are our tips:
Make the most of available technology. Computer programs like Excel and Word have many useful tools, but there are also other options. See ‘Our guide to assistive technology for dyslexics’.
The ability to take notes is essential for successful studying, but places demand on your working memory. The purpose of note taking is to be able to understand and recall key concepts.
Take the time to experiment with different ways of note taking to find what works best for you. There are flow charts, block diagrams, mind maps and more. Use different coloured pens to help you to differentiate between topics and subtopics in your notes.
Our sister company, TutorMyKids, can match you with a specialist tutor who will work with you to develop effective study strategies.
To find out more email, firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01223 858 421.
The term ‘resilience’ is broadly understood to be the ability to bounce back from challenging life events. All children will encounter varying degrees of stress as they grow up. Whether it’s moving school, getting ill, coping with grief, dealing with divorce, encountering bullies and cyberbullies, arguing with friends or taking exams. Children with dyslexia may feel an extra level of anxiety and low self-esteem due to their learning difficulty.
No child can be protected from life’s challenges but they can be supported to build the resilience skills they need to thrive.
There are many factors that help children to develop resilience. High-quality relationships are very important. Children need to know they are valued, listened to and that they will receive help when they need it. They need to have had the experience and satisfaction of overcoming challenges, and to have personal strategies in place to give them the confidence that they will be able to cope in a particular situation like a tricky exam. Here we talk about the ways in which a one-to-one tutor can help your child to build resilience.
Challenges inspire children to make an effort and to stretch their creative and thinking skills. When a tutor gives a child a challenge they make sure that the challenge is suitable for the child’s ability. They gauge this through observation and ongoing assessment. The best challenges are open-ended so children can take them in the direction they want to. This empowers them to make choices and to work at their own speed.
A one-to-one tutor can help a child to develop the confidence that they can solve problems themselves. Instead of jumping in to help as soon as a child is struggling, a tutor will give the child time to develop their ideas and support them to find the answers independently with prompts such as, ‘How can you…? ‘What would happen if…?’ ‘What could you try next?’ The more children know they can bounce back on their own the more they realise they are capable and strong.
Tutors know that learning to manage a small amount of stress is healthy for a child but they balance this with positive affirmation, optimism and with the aim of motivating the child to keep trying.
Receiving unconditional support from a tutor can empower a child to seek help when they need it and to have the confidence to try to work through challenging situations. By spending individual time with a child every week over months or years a tutor has a unique role to play. They really get to know the child, showing empathy when they struggle and delighting in their achievements and, more importantly, the effort they have made to get there.
A tutors can show a child how they manage challenges themselves and the strategies they employ. This might be by sharing a mnemonic, an exam technique, a method for planning essays, or ways to manage study time. It might be sharing stories about how they themselves have failed at something, discussing how they felt and what happened next.
Sharing experiences helps a child to understand that when they struggle they are not alone. They learn that adversity can be useful because it gives them the skills to manage the next time they meet a challenge.
A tutor can play an important role in building a child’s confidence after they’ve suffered a set-back. They understand that not making an exam grade is not the end of the world but feels like it for a child. The tutor will help the child to focus on the future by reframing the event and by teaching them techniques to strengthen their skills. The starting point is to ask the child themselves what steps they think they need to take to improve their grade next time. The tutor will not make assumptions about the child’s difficulties but will listen and respond to what they say.
A private tutor can boost your child’s confidence and motivation levels, fostering a proactive ‘can-do’ attitude whatever their difficulties. They can help your child to develop the strategies they need to navigate the obstacles they will inevitably encounter as they go through life.
Contact our sister company, Tutor My Kids, to discuss how a tutor can help your child today. 01223 858 421, email@example.com
Multisensory learning integrates auditory, kinaesthetic, tactile and visual approaches simultaneously so that students can learn more effectively. Multisensory learning is beneficial for everyone because it stimulates multiple brain pathways at the same time, but it is particularly important for dyslexic students as they often have problems absorbing and memorising new information. When teaching phonics, for example, a teacher might use auditory, kinaesthetic and visual techniques at the same time by asking a child to look in the mirror when they say a phoneme sound so they can make and observe the movement of their mouth.
Multisensory learning can be used to teach any subject at all, from reading to maths and science.
Dyslexic author, Ben Foss, is famous for distinguishing between ‘eye reading’ and ‘ear reading’. Literacy is not just about reading text on paper, it’s also about listening to audio books and text-to-speech applications.
Teaching techniques across all subjects include:
This is learning by doing. It involves both fine motor skills (using fingers and hands) and gross motor skills (using the large muscles of the arms, legs and torso). A common activity used with dyslexic students is ‘air writing’ where students say a letter and simultaneously write it in the air. Letters can also be written in sand or shaving foam.
In English students might:
And in maths and science:
Tactile learning means learning through touch and it overlaps with kinesthetic learning. Tactile learning resources are things like coins, dominoes, dressing up clothes and props, magnetic letters, puzzles, rubiks cubes, clay, paint, playdough, sand, water etc.
Tactile techniques include learning through:
Examples of tactile learning are:
Visual learning is learning by seeing information. Visual learning techniques include:
Our sister company, TutorMyKids, can match your child with a specialist dyslexic tutor who understands the importance of multisensory learning.
All our tutors understand that children with dyslexia can have difficulty absorbing abstract information, especially when it involves memorizing a sequence. Multisensory teaching breaks down these learning barriers and – just as importantly – it’s fun!
Get in touch to find out how we can help your child today.
Tuesday 3rd December is the United Nation’s International Day of Disabled Persons. The aim is to promote the wellbeing and rights of people with disabilities across society. Although dyslexia doesn’t affect intelligence, under the law it is defined as a disability. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that has a significant impact on a person’s daily life.
Here we talk about the legal rights of children with dyslexia and what provision you can expect from your child’s school.
Identifying special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
The SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 Years is the government’s statutory guidance for all organisations working children and young people with SEND. This guidance is based upon the Equalities Act 2010, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. Under section 6.2 of the SEND Code schools are ‘required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support’. In doing so they must:
Identifying dyslexia from the earliest possible point (around the age of 5 or 6) is important so that provision can be put in place for the child straightaway to improve their long-term outcomes. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) told BBC News that schools are ‘failing to diagnose at least 80% of dyslexic pupils’ and they blamed cuts in funding for this failing. The BDA identified that undiagnosed children have ‘significantly poorer results and far higher incidents of disruptive behaviour’.
Is my child being discriminated against?
The Equality Act 2010 defines disability discrimination as:
Unlawful discrimination covers all school activities including:
What are ‘reasonable adjustments’?
Under the Equality Act 2010, schools must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that the disabled child is not discriminated against. Reasonable adjustments could include reviewing policies, raising staff awareness, arranging training for staff so that they can meet the child’s particular needs, providing resources to support the child, changing the arrangement of the room, or making adjustments to routines. Examples of reasonable adjustments for a dyslexic child are:
I think my child is being discriminated against – what can I do?
First arrange a meeting with the headteacher, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) and class teacher to discuss your concerns. If no satisfactory action is taken then you can escalate your complaint by:
How we can help your child
Our sister company, Tutor My Kids, can put you in touch with a specialist dyslexic tutor who will tailor their teaching style and set the pace of learning to suit your child.
Our tutors believe in setting high expectations for children and addressing barriers to learning at the outset so that they feel happier and more confident to achieve in school too. Please get in touch to discuss your child’s needs.
SATs can be difficult for children with dyslexia. Trying to spell words dictated at speed, working under timed conditions and having to complete tasks that rely on memory are a challenge for them. We know that dyslexia does not reflect a child’s intelligence. SATs do not measure creativity, problem solving ability or entrepreneurial thinking – areas in which dyslexic children often excel.
Under the Equality Act 2010 schools have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for children with learning difficulties which includes dyslexia. Schools must also put in place Exam Access Arrangements. These arrangements should minimise the impact of the child’s disability on the exam results without placing them at an unfair advantage over others or affecting the integrity of the exam.
It’s important to be aware that schools must be able to justify the arrangements they make for your child to the government’s Standards & Testing Agency. You will need to work in partnership with your child’s teacher, the SENCO and the headteacher to ensure that your child receives support that is both fair and reasonable.
1. Scribe or reader
A person can write down your child’s SATs answers for them or read questions to them as long as it doesn’t undermine the test itself. During the English reading and English grammar, punctuation and spelling test ‘No help may be given with reading or understanding the questions or passages of text on which questions are based’, Key Stage 2 Tests: 2019 access arrangements guidance, Standards & Testing Agency, p. 24.
Before considering using a scribe or reader schools are required to consider other resources:
‘Before deciding to use a scribe schools should consider whether the pupil should use a word processor, or making a transcript of the pupil’s writing after the test,' Key Stage 2 Tests: 2019 access arrangements guidance, Standards & Testing Agency, p. 17.
Your child can use a scanning pen to help them to read and comprehend text in the SATs. Using a scanning pen levels the playing field and will raise your child’s confidence so that they will want to try hard to do the very best they can. They could also use a word processor or voice activated software to record their answers.
However, schools have to make sure your child doesn’t receive an unfair advantage through the use of technology.
‘Word processors or other technical or electronic aids may be used to record pupil’s answers in the English reading test. They must not be used to provide reading support, other than to read the general instructions on page 3 of the reading booklet. Inappropriate use of equipment may lead to a maladministration investigation…’ Key Stage 2 Tests: 2019 access arrangements guidance, Standards & Testing Agency, p. 22.
3. Extra time
Your child is entitled to up to 25% extra time in all exams including SATs, but it’s up to your child’s school to decide how much time should be accorded based upon your child’s particular needs.
‘If a school allows a pupil additional time inappropriately this could lead to maladministration investigation and could lead to the pupil’s result being amended or annulled,' Key Stage 2 Tests: 2019 access arrangements guidance, Standards & Testing Agency, p. 10.
4. Rest breaks
During the test your child may feel tired or have difficulty concentrating. Schools can give your child rest breaks between sections by stopping the clock, but the test must be completed in the same day. When resting the child must have no opportunity to talk to other children, and adults must not discuss the test.
5. Separate room
Your child can complete their SATs in a separate room from the other children if it helps them to relax and focus. If your child needs a scribe or to be able to read their answers aloud to themselves then this is also justification for sitting tests in a separate room.
6. Behaviour and self-esteem
If your child is displaying challenging behaviour at the moment consider that it might be due to SATs anxiety. Talk to your child to find out if that is the case. Build your child’s self-esteem by encouraging them to focus upon their strengths and achievements. What are they good at? Why are those skills prized? Explain that SATs only measure literacy and numeracy skills – that is all. Show your child videos of famous dyslexics talking about their struggles and subsequent successes.
If your child is feeling anxious introduce them to stress management techniques so that they can help themselves. Learning to cope with stress and overcome obstacles is what makes dyslexic children resilient individuals.
Talk to your child’s teacher and to the school SENCO so they know your concerns and do all they can to support your child.
Does your child need more help?
Our sister company, TutorMyKids, can find your child a specialist dyslexic tutor who will support them in the run up to their SATs. An experienced tutor will nurture your child’s confidence, helping them to develop a range of strategies that will help them to excel both now and throughout their school life.
Dyslexia Awareness Week – which runs from 7th-13th October – raises awareness about the issues dyslexics face on a daily basis so that families, friends and teachers can support them. It’s also about highlighting the fact that dyslexia is not connected with intelligence. It’s a neurological disorder affecting the parts of the brain which process language. Children with dyslexia have difficulties reading, writing and spelling. As part of dyslexia awareness we are going to focus on the signs of dyslexia and the action you can take if you think your child is dyslexic.
Although dyslexia is not diagnosed until a child learns to read, the signs can be spotted around the age of two. Dyslexia can be passed down in families, so if you have a family history you need to be particularly alert. It’s important to know that the signs detailed here do not necessarily mean a child is dyslexic. It’s just a question of flagging up a possible problem which might be confirmed later.
Possible signs are:
Here’s what you can do to help:
Dyslexia can be diagnosed around the age of 5 or 6, when a child learns to read. The earlier you spot dyslexia the better. That way strategies can be put in place to support your child which is vital for their self-esteem and all-round achievement.
Signs to look for are:
We have a questionnaire that you can complete right now to find out whether your child is dyslexic.
I think my child is dyslexic – what now?
Involve professionals. Start by talking to your child’s teacher as they can arrange for extra reading and writing support for your child. At the same time talk to your doctor. Your doctor will check that your child does not have any health conditions such as hearing or vision problems that are preventing them from being able to read and write properly.
If your child continues to struggle, the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) at your child’s school will support your child’s teacher to put strategies in place. At this point, they and/or you may decide to refer your child for assessment by a local authority dyslexic specialist or educational psychologist. The specialist will carry out a formal dyslexia diagnosis and, if needed, provide continuous assistance to your child’s teacher so that interventions are tailored to your child’s specific needs. They will also work with you on strategies to help at home.
In Cambridgeshire it takes between 6 and 12 months for an educational psychologist to visit. Count Out Dyslexia speeds up the process by providing a fast screening service which tests your child for dyslexia and other conditions with similar symptoms at the same time. Your assessor will discuss the results with you so that the right support is quickly put in place.
Extra reading and writing support
If you need reading and writing support for your child our sister company, TutorMyKids, can help you.
There’s no question that tailored, one-to-one tuition from a specialist dyslexic tutor will boost your child’s self-confidence, bolstering their attainment across all subjects.
British Dyslexia Association - https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
NHS: Dyslexia - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/symptoms/
Are you wondering which technology can best help your child? The range of choices can be confusing. Should you choose a reader pen? What about text-to-speech software? Here is our guide to help you.
When you consider a piece of technology, ask yourself:
Computer screen adjustments
Many dyslexics find it difficult to read text on a glaring, white computer screen. You can make different adjustments to help your child:
For help in making adjustments see, My Computer My Way.
Text-to-speech software frees your child from reading, enabling them to focus on the meaning of the text. When choosing text-to-speech software:
If you already have a tablet or an e-reader, check whether your device has text-to-speech software and whether it’s appropriate for your child. See Best text to speech software 2019.
Your child can use a reader pen to scan a word or a sentence, and the pen reads the text to them. Using a reader pen enables your child to be independent in English, history, maths and science – any subject! It means that your child’s dyslexia will not result in them falling behind in any subject.
The best thing about a reading pen is that it can be dropped into a small bag and taken anywhere. Reader pens come with earphones so they can be used without disturbing others. The pen can be used on almost any printed font which is a big advantage over text-to-speech computer software. The C-Pen Reader is a popular choice.
There is continued controversy about whether or not tinted glasses help dyslexics to read. Current research-based evidence argues that dyslexia isn’t a visual disorder but a learning disorder.
However, Visual Stress (or ‘Meares-Irlen syndrome’) has been found to be more common in dyslexics.
To find out whether your child suffers from Visual Stress book an appointment with your optician who can then recommend the best treatment.
For more about Visual Stress see Kite Opticians’ website.
Speech recognition software
Speech recognition systems require children to speak very clearly. Avoid frustration by making sure you have tested the software yourself before you give it to your child. Research has shown that children with dyslexia who use speech recognition software make richer word choices, write more creatively than they would have done, and complete their work more often. Remember: success breeds success!
The Dyslexia Association recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking – a speech recognition software suitable for dyslexics who are able verbal communicators or who have physical difficulties using a computer keyboard. If you have an Apple mobile device the association recommend Siri which is a built-in virtual assistant with speech-to-text function.
Children can use virtual assistants to ask, ‘How do you spell…?’ Examples of programs include Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.
Of course, word-processing and predictive text programs correct spelling and grammar (although they are not infallible!).
As well as problems with reading and writing dyslexics can struggle with short-term memory, concentration and information processing. Mind-mapping software helps them to organize their thoughts organically. It can help them to plan and organize projects, revision notes, ideas – everything and anything.
The British Dyslexia Association website guides you through the mind-mapping technology available.
There is so much amazing assistive technology out there. We hope we’ve provided a starting point to help you make the best choices, so your child can become a confident, motivated learner!
Richard Branson, the most well-known entrepreneur in Britain, has dyslexia.
Founder of the multinational Virgin Group, Richard is not just famous for his business mind but also for his adventurous spirit. In 1987 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon (you can see that very balloon in Duxford Imperial War Museum). Today, with an empire worth about £5 billion, he focuses on space-tourism, providing suborbital space flights aboard a Virgin Galactic spaceship.
His achievements are phenomenal, but they are unlikely to have been foreseen by his teachers at school:
“I was dyslexic. I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old…Do not be embarrassed by your failures; learn from them and start again. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Richard Branson
There are various red flags that can point towards dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies. Take a look at our recent blog for more information: What is dyslexia.
Which tests are available?