An inclusive approach to dyslexia
By Michelle Mullins - Primary Student Support
Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed. These difficulties are caused only by the differences in the ways the brain processes information.
Around 20% of the world's population have Dyslexia and, in the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Education reported that 10% to 19% of schoolchildren had dyslexia.
Learning to read should be an enjoyable, thrilling exploration for young learners. However, that's not always the case. Unlike learning to talk, learning to read and write is not a ‘natural’ or automatic process. For some students, learning to read and write is exhausting and frustrating, leading often to low self-confidence and declining grades. How do we support them in that process?
How do we provide support at Amity Amsterdam?
Teachers and student support specialists in our school respond to the challenges faced by this learning difference with a variety of research-based teaching strategies. These include, but are not limited to,
- visual teaching and learning routines
- differentiation of tasks and outcomes
- multi-model teaching/learning opportunities
Our student support primary department also promotes and encourages visible thinking routines in the classroom. Visual strategies support and help nurture challenges associated with dyslexia, such as
- gaps related to phonological awareness (rhyming/matching sounds)
- orthography (recognising patterns and conventions of print) and
- age-appropriate vocabulary for comprehension challenges.
There is much research to support the effectiveness of visual thinking routines in assisting working memory and/or processing speed. Indeed, students with dyslexia benefit from ‘multisensory’ approaches to learning – i.e. one that uses more than one sense to explain a skill/concept. This is part of the daily pedagogical approaches found in our classrooms and library.
Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022
Each year we recognise and celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week. This special week is organised by the British Dyslexia Association and this year it ran from 3rd to 9th October 2022.
During this week, to raise our students’ awareness, our Learning Support Team made staff and students aware of what dyslexia is and the misconceptions about it via presentations and informal chats. Also, many creative and informational posters and signs about dyslexia all around the school were created to spread awareness amongst our school community. In addition, on 5th October, most of our students tied red ribbons and our staff members wore red as red marks the colour of dyslexia awareness. For our staff, in-house workshops were created. During our first workshop, teachers brought some work from students, and we discussed strategies that can be used to develop phonetic awareness, organization, planning, working memory and concentration. Furthermore, a movie viewing during lunchtime was organized to discuss the misconceptions about dyslexia.
At Amity International School Amsterdam we have a collaborative and supportive culture. We recognise that learning to read and write remain crucial twenty-first-century skills, and our student support department empowers our faculty to fully understand the process of how our children learn and acquire good reading skills.
We definitely value the understanding of the individual learning journey of all our students.
Rose, J. (2009). Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties. http://www.thedyslexia-spldtrust.org.uk/media/downloads/inline/the-rose-report.1294933674.pdf
Hurt, A. E. (2021, December 13). Will you learn better from reading on screen or on paper? Science News Explores. https://www.snexplores.org/article/learn-comprehension-reading-digital-screen-paper
What is Dyslexia? (2022). Yale Dyslexia. https://dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia/
Dyslexia Compass, Babel Idiomas, CPIP, OmoGuru, Vestfold og Telemark fylkeskommune, & York Associates. (2022). National Dyslexia Measurements Across Europe Report. In https://dyslexiacompass.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Dyslexia-Compass-Report_compressed.pdf