A student take on what works and what does not when it comes to teaching children with dyslexia

A new book aims to put children with dyslexia at the heart of the conversation about support for dyslexic students

Andy Binkiewicz

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As Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017 draws to an end, it is interesting to look at how much of the content and talk around dyslexia this week has been produced or contributed to by dyslexic students. 

The answer is: not as much as there should have been. 

That absence of the voice of dyslexic students is one of the drivers of a new book, Dyslexia is my Superpower (Most of the Time), written by Margaret Rooke, who interviewed more than 100 children worldwide.

“From what the children told me, one thing I would say is how important it is for teachers to understand how easily some of these children feel embarrassed and humiliated, for instance when they have to read out loud or their marks are made public,” says Rooke. "On the other hand, when they experience teachers as caring and, especially, if they can spend some one on one time, their efforts have a profound effect."

Rooke has kindly shared some of the quotes from students to round off Dyslexia Awareness Week with the voice of the students. 

Children’s top don’ts

“Don’t teach kids with dyslexia as if they are other kids. They will not learn as quickly as the teacher is teaching. Then they start to question why they don’t understand, why they don’t learn what the others are learning and then they don’t go to school and they stay at home feeling like there’s no one else like them.” (Phoebe, 10, Victoria, Australia)

“I find it embarrassing when the teacher asks me questions in front of the class and I can’t answer. Sometimes she asks me to read in front of the class and I find this embarrassing, too.” (Fiona, 9, County Kildare, Ireland)

“The worst thing a teacher can do is shout, ‘I don’t want any spelling mistakes. I want you to get these words all right'.” (Callum, 9, Renfrewshire, Scotland)

“The worst thing is when the teachers give you more work for homework and don’t explain how to do it. You are meant to figure it out for yourself." (Miles, 13, Victoria, Australia)

“The worst thing is to tell the entire class that a student has dyslexia or other special learning needs without finding out beforehand if the affected student actually minds about them revealing it. Sometimes, giving such students too much attention is also not a very good idea as the others may feel that the teachers are showing favouritism in class.” (JX, 14, Hougang, Singapore)

 Children’s top dos

“The best things the teachers can do is to help me try to learn and give me all the tools I need. Getting the help has put up my grades. It’s helped me to learn the way I know how to learn.” (Samuel, 12, New Brunswick, Canada)

“Teachers should ask the kids with dyslexia how they want to be taught. Sit down and ask them what works for them. There is no same strategy that works for two people.” (Elliot, 17, Stirlingshire, Scotland)

“The teachers give me work in smaller sections and that helps.” (Leah, 14, London, England)

“If I am taking an exam in a small room I feel I can relax more than in a big room with lots of people turning over the page and writing far more than me.” (Daisy, 14, West Sussex, England)

“Right now I have a lovely teacher who makes math interesting and funny. He gets us to take PE every day so we get lots of little breaks and this helps me concentrate.” (Amelia, 12, Victoria, Canada)

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Andy Binkiewicz

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