Mana Siddiqui, M.Ed.
Learning Support Specialist, Reading Specialist
Reading is a complex process with many dimensions to consider. Appropriate interventions vary greatly, according to the needs of various students. The necessary skills range from phonemic awareness to fluency and pre conceptual knowledge, among other skills. It is necessary to take the complexity of this process into account as you assess which areas are giving your students the most trouble, and to apply these interventions in a nurturing, comfortable environment.
Emotional and psychological difficulties posed by dyslexia demand significant attention in an effective, holistic intervention. A child accustomed to thinking ‘I will not get this’ is far less likely to read successfully or to enjoy reading, and therefore to make the progress needed to learn and function at higher levels as he or she gets older.
For many children, the sense that they cannot do what comes easily for everybody else is more damaging than their particular habits of misreading.
The mechanical dimension of dyslexia is the one with the most straightforward solution. Children can learn to double-check themselves on words that give them trouble; mnemonic devices can remind them which letters face in which directions. In isolation, these skills are relatively simple, and if dyslexia and other reading difficulties were simply a matter of learning to compensate, then dyslexia would hardly be the potentially debilitating problem that it is.
What children contending with dyslexia need most are interventions that account for all of their individual needs: Where is she getting tripped up? Does she crave praise from teachers? Does she have a sense that nobody else believes she can do it? Teaching children to cope effectively with reading problems means addressing these as well as the simpler aspects.
It is essential that students move at a comfortable pace. In their typical classroom settings, they often feel as though they are rushing: rushing to finish reading class materials or instructions for an activity. One of the advantages of coming to my room is that children are given a space to work at a comfortable pace and learn to approach reading on comfortable terms.
Parents and fellow educators sometimes raise concerns that dyslexic children who learn at a slower pace than their peers may never catch up, but reading speed tends to increase naturally with practice. In order to facilitate that practice and that progress, it is first necessary to defeat any sense of dread that children may bring to the process of reading in the first place. A precise assessment of goals and a patient, supportive approach will do the most good for your students.