Dyslexic readers are often slow to learn to read. Once they read, they often read fewer words per minute than their peers. For dyslexic students, reading can become laborious and even result in tear-filled reading sessions.
Dyslexic students can become successful readers. However, educators need to use certain strategies with dyslexic students to help them progress in decoding skills. Here are our top 5 tips for dyslexic readers:
- Use decodable books.
- Explicitly introduce new phonics sounds.
- Use phonics flashcards.
- Underline student errors. Have the student self-correct.
- Use decontextualized word lists to improve the student’s word analysis.
Continue reading for more details on each recommendation.
1) Use decodable books.
Decodable books are specific types of books used in beginning reading instruction. They are methodically written to focus only on the phonics sound the child has already learned in reading lessons. Decodable books allow kids to practice new phonics sounds and gain mastery over the phonics sounds they’ve already learned. Decodable books are essential for dyslexic readers. They allow dyslexic kids to successfully master the most common phonics sounds.
Reading Elephant offers 120+ printable decodable books.
2) Explicitly introduce new phonics sounds.
Dyslexic readers need explicit introduction of the most common phonics sounds. Without explicit instruction, dyslexic readers are at risk of not learning the phonics sounds at all.
To explicitly introduce a phonics sound write a sentence on the board that highlights that sound. For example, if you’re teaching the long e ee/ea units write, “The bee flew through the trees and sat on a leaf.” Underline ee/ea in the sentence. Say something like, “Our new sound is in bee, tree and leaf. What do you think the new sound is?” Your student will likely identify the long e sound. Next, explicitly say, “Ee says /ee/ as in tree. “Ea” says /ea/ as in leaf.” Write ee and ea on their own flashcard. Have your student review them daily.
Explicit instruction is in contrast to implicit instruction. In implicit instruction, the educator expects the student to “pick up” on the phonics sounds through exposure to books. This method will fail dyslexic readers. Instead, use explicit instruction: directly tell the student the sound.
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3) Use phonics flashcards.
Phonics flashcards help dyslexic readers learn new phonics sounds and master old phonics sounds. Write each phonics sound the child has learned in reading lessons on a flashcard. Have your student review them daily. Mix them up before every lesson so she does not memorize the order.
4) Underline student errors. Have the student self-correct.
When the student miscues, underline the error. Have the student try again. When a child makes a mistake too often educators just give the word. This does not help the child progress in reading. A miscue is an opportunity to teach the child a phonics sound or skill he’s weak in.
For example, let’s say the child reads, “The frog jumped into the cave.” for “The frog jumped into the creek.” Underline the ee unit. Have the child say this sound. Underline cr. Have the child say the cr blend.
Now, without ever giving the child the word “creek,” see if she can correct herself on her own. The work she puts into correcting this error results in real, lasting learning.
5) Use decontextualized word lists to improve the student’s word analysis.
Decontextualized word lists are one of the most effective reading activities. They take the crutches of context and pictures away. The educator should create a varied list that includes phonics sounds the child has just learned and is trying to master. This way, it’s impossible for the child to guess.
A kindergarten word list might look like:
- met 2. bag 3. kin 4. den 5. cup 6. sip 7. fan 8. let 9. pop 10. lip.
This is a good list that does not allow the child to guess. It includes various vowels. The following is NOT an effective list: 1. met 2. beg 3. pet 4. let 5. beg 6. hen 7. pen 8. men 9. leg 10. fed. The child will simply memorize the short e sound in the middle and put no effort into word analysis. Thus, make sure your decontextualized word list contains various phonics sounds: old and new.