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What are the best classroom and tutoring environments for a child with dyslexia?

Nancy F. English, M.Ed.
Nancy F. English, M.Ed.

Question:

What is the best type of classroom for a student who is dyslexic? What tutoring programs work best with children who are dyslexic?

Answer:

Students with dyslexia should be placed in a classroom that is structured for multisensory, small group instruction. Most classrooms engage students through sight and/or sound. Information is presented in written and/or spoken form. Students in turn are asked to practice and share what they have learned using these two senses. Quite often students with learning difficulties are slow to process information using one sense. A multisensory instructional approach allows students to process information using a variety of senses: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic; often times simultaneously. This will help the child’s brain to develop memories to hang on to as the student learns and applies concepts. Dyslexic students need repetition and differentiation. Therefore, off-grade level instructional and practice materials should be available. Opportunities to practice what has been taught should be plentiful. Students should be given many opportunities to engage in word work, writing, reading, and listening to reading.

Dyslexic students should also be tutored using a multisensory language approach. In a classroom, students participate in a variety of instructional settings; whole group, small group based on ability, small group based on academic strength or weakness. The tutoring situation should be done one on one or in a small group setting of a maximum of 2-4 other students. Tutoring for dyslexic students often continues as long as 2-3 years. Foundational reading areas should be the focus of instruction: phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary with a focus on word parts. Repeated practice is necessary for mastery. It doesn’t matter which program is used as long as the facilitator is certified to teach using that program.

Nancy F. English, M.Ed.

Nancy is an Instructional Coach for the Vestavia Hills City School System (Alabama). She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has a special certificate to teach students with dyslexia and students struggling with reading difficulties.