I am one of those people who doesn’t really revise until the last minute where I cram everything and some but not all of it sticks, but I was fortunate enough to be allowed to sit in on a consultation for someone with dyslexia while doing some work experience with the Dyslexics Research Trust (DRT) and the ideas that they were given I think would actually benefit me, someone who has no form of learning difficulty except for a bit of laziness. They were things like active note taking, active listening, memory exercises and doing little bits of revision often instead of doing a massive cramming session the week before my exams.
I will keep you posted on my progress in my exams.
Some pupils with dyslexia and related conditions such as dyspraxia and dysgraphia find that the difficulties associated with handwriting can inhibit their ability to structure and write a piece of work. The handwriting itself can take up too much concentration and effort. With continuing advancements and increasing use of computers in education and the workplace, teaching touch typing skills and allowing pupils to use a computer for written work at an early age is highly valuable. It can also allow more concentration to be focused on the content of the piece.
Here are some touch typing websites which may be of use for Primary age children:
Dyslexics sometimes have problems with handwriting.
When learning to read, children first have to link the shape of the word on the page with the sound it makes. Then, when it comes to writing, they have to recreate that shape back onto paper. For children with dyslexia, decoding these patterns and making these links can often be very difficult. As a result, they frequently fail to develop the automatic flow of writing which will help them to express themselves clearly and easily in writing.
It is recommended that children learn the continuous cursive style.
Typically, when first learning to write, children ‘print’ their letters. They then move on to ‘joined up’ writing at a later stage. For children with dyslexia, learning two styles of handwriting can add an extra layer of difficulty and cause confusion. It is, therefore, much more helpful if a young child can learn to use a single system of handwriting right from the start.
The most widely recommended handwriting style is called continuous cursive. Its most important feature is that each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the paper – and consequently, each word is formed in one, flowing movement.
The key advantages to this system are:
By making each letter in one movement, children’s hands develop a ‘physical memory’ of it, making it easier to produce the correct shape;
Because letters and words flow from left to right, children are less likely to reverse letters which are typically difficult (like b/d or p/q); these visual prompts may also help -
There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower case;
The continuous flow of writing can improve speed and spelling.
Pre-writing exercises can help improve mobility. Give these a try:
Fingers opening and closing – both hands x 10
Fingers opening and closing – alternate hands x 10
Finger opposition – i.e.: thumb touching fingers in sequence. One hand at a time then both together
Drumming rhythms on table top
Sitting to rock from side to side, weight bearing through arms to lift bottom up. Stretch arms up to side, behind head behind back, rotate shoulders backwards and forwards and shake arms.
Sit up straight, clasp hands together, push up to ceiling, behind head and palms out.
Clasp hands together and push palms together.
Practising continuous cursive handwriting.
If you wish to practise handwriting with your child, it is advisable to use a recommended teaching resource. This will show you exactly how to form the letters and how best to practise them. See the National Handwriting Association.
It is also worth paying attention to a few basics, such as:
Paper: It is a good idea to use lined paper. At the earliest stages, you can use double lines to show the correct size of ascenders and descenders. Lines should be well spaced to start with – eg 10mm apart – gradually reducing to single lines about 5mm apart.
Posture: Make sure that the chair and desk are at the correct height. Your child’s back should be straight and feet resting on the floor. A right-handed child should have their book slanted to the left. For a left-handed child the book should be slanted to the right.
Implements: It is best to use a standard HB pencil, well sharpened. With the youngest ages, you might use a chunky triangular pencil to aid the grip. As children get older and more confident, they can move on to a fountain pen or a special handwriting pen. You should avoid using ballpoint pens for handwriting exercises.
Why not try it out for yourself by following these simple steps:
1. Select the 'Start' button which is located at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.
2. When the menu appears select 'Settings' then 'Control Panel and click the 'Display Properties' icon.
3. The next stage is to select the 'Appearance' tab and then the 'Advanced' button as indicated by the red outlines.
4. You should now be in 'Advanced Appearance.
5. Click the in area where you can see the words 'Window Text'. This activates the 'Window Text' item.
6. Just to the right hand side of the 'Window Text' item you will see an option to choose a different 'Colour'.
7. Select the drop down menu and choose a colour that best suits your needs. Finally, select 'Okay' then 'Apply' and 'Okay' when the previous display box appears until you return to the 'Control Panel'. Select 'File' and 'Close' to return to the desktop.
It is also possible to use a dedicated program that will manage the colour settings of our desktop and applications through one easy-to-use window.
ReadAble saves multiple profiles allowing different colour settings for different activities and/or users.
ReadAble changes all Windows colours including the Window background colour, default text colour, the menu background and text colour and the toolbars. It can also override web page background and font colours.
Be realistic! Give yourself extra time and try to allow time for someone to help proof read your work before it has to be handed in. If you miss a study session try and integrate it later in the week rather than skip the topic.
Teacher Tip: Break tasks down into sections:
MUST: work that must be completed by all.
SHOULD:work that you should complete if you have time.
COULD: work that you could complete if you have time.
This takes the pressure off students who work at slower speeds than others in the class. An example of a Y5 planning document to demonstrate this strategy is shown below. Double click on the image to enlarge.
Breaking tasks down
Think of a large task in small chunks rather than approaching it as a whole. It is less overwhelming and you can start at any point rather than getting stuck at the first hurdle.
Teacher Tip: Prioritise tasks for the children - a great tip from Learning Support Teacher at Muritai School New Zealand - Sarah Richardson.
Always have four different coloured highlighter pens to hand. When a child who really struggles to follow instructions has information on a worksheet blocked out with different colours it becomes so much clearer.
PINK means - first
GREEN means - next
YELLOW means - then
BLUE means - last
You can also use post-it notes of the above colours with the words first,next, then and last on them, use them on your white board to identify the steps needed to complete a task.
Give yourself a break
It feels counter productive but you will work much better if you include rest and relaxation into your schedule. Especially during revision times, be sure to get enough sleep.