Dyslexia is a mental disability that makes one have difficulty in writing and reading. Dyslexia is actually quite common, but most tutors do not immediately think of it as the problem when their students prove difficult to tutor.
Dyslexia is also termed a spectrum disorder: this means that the disorder varies from person to person.
As a tutor, it is not your place to diagnose your students, but to try to understand them and thus, know how to tutor them better. If you see any of these signs in your students, be diligent and inform the parents so that they can get a proper diagnosis from a professional, and the children will begin to get the specialised care that will benefit them.
Signs Of Dyslexia In Students
As said earlier, dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the symptoms differ from person to person. The most common feature of dyslexia is the inconsistencies in its symptoms. However, a dyslexic child could exhibit up to ten of these symptoms:
1. The student is usually very intelligent, bright, and very articulate, but cannot spell or read or write at even at the first-grade level.
2. Teachers think the child is has a behaviour problem, is immature, careless, unintelligent, lazy, and not putting in their best effort. However, a dyslexic child with specialised assistance can overcome behavioural problems.
3. The child will typically have a high IQ, but won’t do well in an academic test that is written; in an oral test, they will perform exceptionally.
4. The student is easily frustrated about school tests and reading and feels like they are dumb. They also tend to have low self-esteem but hides it with various ingenious strategies, such as being very funny or being aggressive.
5. They are very good in subjects like music, sports and drama, love storytelling, and are talented salespersons, business men and women, designers, builders, and engineers.
6. Dyslexic children tend to be of two temperaments: hyperactive or daydreamers. They either daydream during lessons, losing track of time and getting lost: or they can’t seem to concentrate, their attention bouncing from one thing to the other.
7. They assimilate their lessons best when they are practical and more hands-on, with experiments, visual cues, demonstrations, and just by observing things around them.
8. Dyslexic students usually complain of headaches or dizziness during a reading exercise.
9. Their writing or reading shows a lot of inconsistencies and mistakes: the repeat words or letters, they omit entire letters, words, or sentences, they substitute words or letters for others, and they even reverse the way letters or numbers are written.
10. Dyslexic children complain of movement, usually non-existent, when they are writing or reading, saying it is distracting them.
11. They read and reread sentences without understanding what they have read.
12. They spell phonetically, instead of spelling with letters.
13. Dyslexic children seem to have some visual problems but score perfectly on eye exams.
14. The students are easily distracted by sound and can get things that aren’t noticeable to others around them.
15. Dyslexic children find it very hard to say what they think or feel. They talk haltingly, like they are counting their words, and even leave their sentences unfinished.
16. They tend to stammer when they are stressed and mispronounce long words.
17. They reverse the order of words, phrases, or syllables when they talk.
18. Dyslexic children have an unusual pen grip, and their handwriting is mostly illegible.
19. They tend to confuse left and right, over and under, above and below, etc. However, they can be ambidextrous.
20. There is usually a family history of a difficulty with reading.
What To Do When You Have A Dyslexia Tutor Student
Once you notice that you may have a dyslexic child in your tutor class, it is advisable you notify the student’s parents immediately so that they can be properly diagnosed by a professional. In the meantime, you as a tutor can learn the skills necessary to properly tutor the students, helping them to learn at a pace that they can follow.
• The student is actually putting in a lot of effort, so you as a tutor should see that and encourage them.
• The tutor should understand that the student is still paying attention, whether they are looking at the books or focusing on what the tutor is teaching. Allow them to use toys, like fidget spinners, so they can keep their hands busy when paying attention.
• Give your students time to process a question before they answer you. They are most likely to give you the correct answer when they have more time to process your question.
• Maintain silence when they try to think of an answer to your question. Don’t ask another question while they are processing your first question: it will interrupt their thought process, and just confuse them.
• Ask them to tell you how they feel they can learn better, and incorporate that into your teaching methods.
• Do not make your students feel bad about getting an answer wrong. Rather, help them arrive at the correct answer by reminding them of previous lessons, questions and answers.
• When pronouncing phonemes to your students, try not to sound them off. For example, there is a difference between the /p/ sound (as in letter p), and /puh/.
• Let your students work out and arrive at answers themselves: don’t give them to answers. It will make them feel bad about themselves, lowering their self-esteem. When they figure out answers for themselves, they feel better about themselves and are more enthusiastic about learning.
• Make them understand that you are working with them to make their writing, reading and spelling better. Let them know that the effort comes from both of you. They are not battling this alone.
• Give the child some space when he shows frustrations. Allow him to vent off his anguish before continuing tackling the questions again. Forcing him will do neither of you good.
Tutoring is a very fulfilling job, especially when you figure out new ways to best educate your tutor students. With the tips above, you can work better with your dyslexic students, or you can use these tips to identify them and then work with them to help them learn better and allow them to enjoy learning. All in all, you’ll be able to provide better special needs tuition.