Dyslexia word cloud on a white background.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading is fun! And for many students reading time brings thrills, excitement and imagination! Theirs will be the first hands in the air waving eagerly to be chosen by their teacher to read, they give the correct answers, are able to give the meaning in context, give synonyms and antonyms for the words. They are the same ones who will predict the ending of the story and share with the class a similar theme from their lives’ experiences and from other books they have read. They can make inferences and summarise the story in quick time. The teacher can depend on these students to complete their task; in groups, in pairs and individually, without any support.

The BEST student ever!

However, you cast your eyes several times over your class looking for your next reader, then fix your stare on Maria, she looks away, and finally, you have made eye contact. You nod your head at her, indicating- next paragraph. Maria freezes!

She starts to read and as a keen teacher, you begin to take mental notes.

  • • Confusing small words, such as at and to
  • • Omitting the ending of words
  • • Letter reversals, such as d for b
  • • Word reversals, such as tip for pit
  • • difficulties breaking words in to syllables
  • • Difficulty understanding rhyming words
  • • Unable to recognize words that begin with the same sound
  • • Difficulty keeping pace when reading
  • • Difficulty reading basic sight words

As a good teacher you would start to think of how to support Maria. You will pull from your experience as a teacher, share your concerns with your colleagues and get some ideas or do some research.

First, have a talk with her about what she likes to read, her experience with reading, if she likes to read aloud, ask her to give you a feedback on how she read and share with her some of your findings. Secondly, speak to her teacher/s from the previous year, if not available, check her files to ascertain if her reading difficulties were noted, if she was formally assessed and if any strategies were implemented and what their outcomes were. Also contact parents, share your concerns, ask if they are aware, and if she is receiving external support which they have provided.

Some strategies to support Maria’s reading challenges.

  • • If you have a reading programme in your school, refer her. If there’s none, you will have to research and create interventions and differentiate for her.
  • • Make a word bank of sight words with words that she should have known at her age. If she is very far below her age, start with 2-3 letter words. Share with parents as homework.
  • • Create some time during each day for her to read to you or to an assigned class partner; she can read alone, aloud or read together aloud.
  • • To support fluency, let her read the same passage repeatedly.
  • • Ask her to retell the story and to provide a different ending.
  • • Depending on her age, use picture stories to support understanding.
  • • Provide age appropriate simplified texts for her to read and answer questions.
  • • Pre teach words from the texts before reading begins in class.
  • • Provide a notebook for her to log new words and their meanings, which she can use later.
  • • Finally, if possible, carry out a reading assessment to identify her reading needs and strategies/ interventions.

As a teacher, you would have created a whole new world of words and meaning in Maria’s life!

By: Debbie Hamilton-Bogues