3.2. Appropriate support approaches

There is a range of supports and approaches that can help learners with dyslexia.

Differentiation and the curriculum

The impact of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning and teaching environment.

Differentiation is defined by the Training and Development Agency for Schools as:

‘The process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in a group have the best possible chance of learning.’

Differentiation has become a key skill and requirement for all teachers to ensure the needs of all their learners are met. Creating resources, which are accessible for dyslexic learners will also support a wide range of learners. There are several areas to consider when planning effective and meaningful differentiation as highlighted in Figure 8.

Described image
Figure 10 Differentiation

Activity 6 Reflective Log

Think about the curriculum that you teach. What do you see as your main challenges in differentiating the curriculum? Consider the needs of your pupils and make a note in your log of how well you meet their needs at present and where you would like to make improvements.

Responsibility for All

'Curriculum for Excellence [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ', states that all teachers have responsibility for literacy, numeracy and wellbeing and it is helpful for you to understand that dyslexia can have an impact on all three of these areas.

Activity 7 Reflective Log

Dyslexic learners may experience difficulties in relation to literacy, numeracy and wellbeing. In your Reflective Log make a list of some of these difficulties, then think about how they connect with each other and how they relate to the curricular areas or subjects you teach.

The table below highlights some common areas of difficulty which individuals with dyslexia can experience and which will affect their language and numeracy development and consequently their wellbeing. You will notice these areas are all included within the Scottish working definition of dyslexia.

Common areas of difficulty

Phonological awarenessShort-term memoryShort-term memory
Short-term memoryWorking memoryWorking memory
Working memoryNaming and labellingNaming and labelling
Naming and labellingProcessing speedOrganisation
Processing speedOrganisation 

Approaches which support the development of early literacy skills can be very suitable for learners with literacy difficulties, dyslexia, language delay and English as an additional language. Using resources such as the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit and information on the Education Scotland National Improvement Hub can help you support the language development needs of children and young people in your classes in nursery, primary and secondary settings.

Activity 8 Reflective Log

The table below provides some helpful approaches used by teachers in a wide range of schools.

Consider which approaches you use or could use to support pupils in your class who experience literacy difficulties and dyslexia.

Use the copy of this table in your Reflective Log to explore which approaches you currently use or could include, and which you cannot use and why.

Support Classroom practice
Currently used or could include Cannot useReason
Seating and grouping – ensure everyone can see the white board and you can see them   
Explain and present information many times in various ways (pictures, flow charts, diagrams)   
Ensure thinking/processing time is allowed    
Provide information, desk-top mats/jotter inserts - word banks, prompts and personal targets   
Use information technology (IT) – for reading and writing    
Encourage the use of books in audio/digital format to support access to texts   
Match reading resources to reading ability, ensuring that it is age appropriate   
Highlight the main points in text to support comprehension, prediction and recall    
Use and encourage multi-sensory approaches    
Limit the amount of reading/copying from the board. Give copies of notes - electronic versions and examples    
Accept alternatives to writing    
Limit writing demands    
Ensure extra time is provided   
Provide writing frames/story skeletons    
Use and help pupils understand how to use mind maps, spider webs, bullet points    
Specify what will be marked    
Minimise the number of errors you highlight – perhaps only one of each type. Suggest how to avoid these in the future    
Use directed praise    

3.1. Effective communication

3.3. Supporting literacy