Could it be dyslexia?
It's the start of a new school year. You have just been given a new group of kids and of course you have your huge assortment of abilities. They are all there in their different shapes and sizes. The noisy ones, the active ones, the ready to please ones and of course the challenging ones. You know that they all have ability and the challenge is to build a rapport and to have them functioning as a team. I recall spending the first few weeks getting the groupings and physical organisation of the classroom conducive to a good working environment. This always paid off big time when I was able to get right.
The relationship building process begins
Part of the challenge for a school teacher at the beginning of the school year is to get the group dynamics right. Once you are able to do this all of the projects you set that require team work will flow without too many hiccups. The leaders of the groups blossom, the organisers emerge, the perfectionists make sure everything is perfect and everybody is comforted by the team work oriented members and so on. This group oriented approach does take a great deal of training. It works best if the whole school adopts a similar approach. Otherwise you may find that your students will take at least two terms to show your faith in this approach. Even in the latter situation the overall benefits of persevering and guiding the process is worth the effort. The long term benefits for children working in mini teams is priceless.
Assessing your kids
Ok, once all of the groupings and the physical environment is established, it is time to find out what they know. Sure you can look back on the results from the previous years and this is a useful guide. However I never really relied on them. Students can perform very differently in different situations. So I would only compare the results later on and thus not be influenced by previous efforts. I generally found that if I started off with a clean slate for all students then I was giving them a chance to shrug off any previous labelling that had been given to the students. I would collate the results and evaluate if I agreed with what I perceived each student was capable of. In most cases the information and my assumptions would match. However in some cases the way the children interacted and spoke didn't fit at all with their academic results?
Could it be dyslexia?
At the time I didn't know much about dyslexia. It is only recently as I am faced with tutoring students privately who have dyslexia that I am able to work out what was going on with those particular students. Now that I cast my mind back I can see how these seemingly bright articulate and outgoing students managed to fool all the testers. They were able to scrape by. However you just knew they were capable of so much more. At the time I didn't know that they hard a difficult time processing information as other children do.
Signs of dyslexia
This information is taken from the website http://www.beatingdyslexia.com/dyslexia-symptoms.html
This is for all educators parents and friends of friends who know somebody who exhibits these traits.
- Appears bright, highly intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
- Labeled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, "not trying hard enough," or "a behavior problem."
- High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
- Feels dumb; has poor self-esteem; hides or covers up weaknesses with ingenious compensatory strategies.
- Easily frustrated and emotional about school, reading or testing.
- Seems to "zone out" or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
- Difficulty sustaining attention; seems "hyper" or "a daydreamer."
- Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
Difficulty reading unfamiliar words.
Making lots of errors.
Slow sound by sound reading.
Letters appearing to move around or blur on the page.
Difficulty coordinating eyes (tracking)
Losing concentration quickly.
Fixating on parts of the text for longer than average
Difficulty spelling unfamiliar words
Difficulty dividing words into their smallest units of speech sound (phonemes)
Forgetting how to spell simple or short words.
Problems distinguishing all 44 phonemes in the English language.
Occasional pronunciation errors.Making syntactical errors such as ‘I driv over to your house’, rather than ‘I drove over to your house’.
Forgetting names of people or objects .
Instantly forgetting the order of letters in a word when it is spelt out.
Poor ability to recall items on a list.
Difficulty learning the months of the year and times tables.
Difficulty maintaining concentration.
Lack of coordination.
Problems telling right from left as a child.
May lose train of thought more often than average.
Difficult for the student concerned to process information.
Don't let them suffer any more. Acknowledge that there is something wrong and seek out help. The amazing advances in technology today can make all the difference for your child.
If your friend or child exhibits many of the above traits, you should be seeking out help. Talk to your child's teacher and get them to seek out professional help. The problem could be in the way these children process information. It could be a form of dyslexia
Breaking the chains that hinder their progress
If you suspect your child has dyslexia, don't despair take action. Every effort should be made to build up your child's self esteem. Find out what they are good at and celebrate it with the class. It is very important to praise and encourage them so that they use their creative ability to be part of the main group rather than covering up what they are struggling with. Once these students feel comfortable and use their creative flair and big picture thinking they can become brilliant leaders within the community. The problem is that they have an inner struggle to overcome. They have to address why they cant learn like or at the same rate as everybody else. This becomes the main stumbling block as I have found with my young adult dyslexic students. Not that they cant learn like everybody else but the fact that they have beat themselves up about it so much. This makes further learning even more difficult.
Lets break down the stigma attached to dyslexia
Understanding and appreciation of the gift people with dyslexia have will go a long way to bringing out the very best in people who have dyslexia. When dyslexia is identified at an early age it can be treated and beaten. Some changes need to be made for the students to learn at the same rate as everybody else. However by acknowledging and providing these changes in your teaching not only will the dyslexic children benefit but so will the whole class. A good starting point for incorporating teaching practises that will benefit the whole class including dyslexic children can be found at http://www.beatingdyslexia.com/dyslexia-symptoms.html