Homeschooling kids with dyslexia is often a much less stressful educational option to help these bright but struggling students. It does not, however, eliminate learning struggles. One way to help your child be successful in (or out of) the homeschooling environment is to offer them accommodations and strategies.
What are Accommodations?
Accommodations are teaching methods that take a student’s individual weaknesses into account so that he or she can perform at their intellectual ability. Remember, kids with dyslexia are smart, but this intelligence may be masked by an inability or difficulty with reading, writing, or spelling.
Examples of accommodations for kids with dyslexia are allowing the student to listen to an audio version of a reading assignment or allowing a child with dysgraphia to dictate a writing assignment. Kids with learning differences aren’t the only ones who receive accommodations. If a child has a broken arm, they may be allowed to dictate a paper. If a child is blind, no one would expect them to read without the accommodation of books written in Braille. Likewise, kids with learning differences should receive accommodations so that they too can perform to their best ability.
10 of the Best Accommodations for Dyslexia
1. Read Materials to the Student
One of the most frustrating situations for parents homeschooling their dyslexic kids is the child’s inability to read assignments. This is especially so when the child is totally capable of understanding the material. Most parents spend quite a bit of time reading to their dyslexic kids. Every parent of a child with dyslexia should have a few good resources for audio books. It also can be helpful to find curricula with audio resources.
2. Allow Oral Responses Instead of Written
Difficulty with handwriting (called dysgraphia) and spelling can make written assignments more of a lesson in futility than anything else. Step back and remember the big picture – we want them to learn to organize and express their thoughts on a particular subject. Writing and spelling instruction will fall under remediation for a time until fluency develops. Until then, there is no need to make every subject a reading and writing lesson as well.
3. Allowing Extra Time on Assignments
This simple accommodation is one of the most effective for leveling the playing field for dyslexic students. Slower reading and processing times makes timed tests or assignments difficult. Give your student the freedom to succeed by giving them the time they need to do their best work.
4. Allow Instructional Aids like Number Strips or an Alphabet Chart
This type of simple accommodation often leads to remediation over time. A student who refers to their chart to find the needed information in context, will often begin to remember without the chart after a short time.
5. Allow the Use of Assistive Technology
This can be anything from low tech things like highlighters, enlarged print, use of a dyslexia-friendly spellchecker, or running a 3×5 card under text to more high tech stuff like speech-to-text or text-to-speech apps, organizational apps, or word predicting software.
6. Keep Instructional Times Short
Take 10-15 minutes for instructions and provide a variety of ways for kids to practice what they have learned.
7. Provide Directions One Step at a Time
Dyslexia often involves delays in processing information. Students with dyslexia have trouble processing, prioritizing and remembering long lists of directions at one time.
8. Preview and Review
Introduce each concept before instruction and review afterwards. This helps with memory and organization of thoughts. Dyslexic kids learn through meaning, meaning provides a framework for remembering. Rote memory does not work well for these students; focus on concepts and real-life examples or experiences.
9. Give a Clear Sense of How Much Time They Will Be Working on a Task
Limiting the amount of time a student is required to work on a subject (in one sitting) especially difficult tasks like reading – helps them to maintain focus and motivation.
10. Course Substitutions.
Learning a foreign language can be extremely difficult for a student with dyslexia. Most high schools and more and more colleges are now waiving this requirement by exchanging it for a cultural courses or art course.
Are Dyslexia Accommodations Unfair?
Some people, especially those who don’t understand dyslexia, complain that it is unfair to allow dyslexic students the use of accommodations. What accommodations are doing, however, is leveling the playing field so to speak. They are allowing kids to work to their full intellectual ability that without accommodation would not be possible.
Balancing Accommodation with Remediation
It is important for teachers and parents who are homeschooling to find the right balance between remediation and accommodation. All kids need to build a solid academic foundation. Since this oftentimes takes longer for the dyslexic student, providing accommodations can help these students to work at their intellectual ability with more and more independence while remediation is still taking place.
What kinds of accommodations would your dyslexic student benefit from?