Processing information while learning can be especially difficult for students who struggle with disorders such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and different processing disabilities. That’s why learning techniques to teach them uniquely can help you reach them in a way students and parents will appreciate.
Dyslexia is a semi-common learning disability which affects over 3 million people in the U.S. per year. Students with dyslexia take longer to process information while reading and writing and have trouble relating letters to words. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t intelligent, it just means they need to do things in their own way to learn to the best of their ability. Some ways to relate to these students include implementing visuals rather than reading materials into their assignments, if possible. If visuals aren’t achievable, then highlight and break down instructions for students so that they can focus on the main points of the assignment. Work on one small thing at a time as to not overwhelm the student, and help them manage their study schedule by making simplified work calendars.
Like dyslexia, dyscalculia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for students to learn, particularly relating to math. Commonly referred to as “math dyslexia”, this disability can be as simple as telling time on a clock or can be as complex as looking at a math sequence and remembering it. This disability is less common than dyslexia, but still, something educators see in the classroom. A great way to teach students who struggle with dyscalculia is to help them understand why. It’s one thing to show them how to solve a problem, but showing them why a formula does what it does will help them connect it to whatever they’re doing. Use visuals and patterns to help a student understand and remember a formula rather than explaining it countless times with no understanding.
Unlike dyslexia and dyscalculia, processing deficits are different in the sense that every case is unique. People with processing deficits either struggle with sensory, auditory, or language processing. Students with these disorders usually have trouble understanding their different senses and get overwhelmed very easily. Some ways for you to help these students learn better are by eliminating or limiting the number of distractions around them. This includes noises such as buzzing and visuals such as bright posters which can cause the student to lose focus. Allow these students to take breaks to stand up, walk around, or eat a snack. This can help calm anxious tendencies and help get their fidgets out. Before speaking to the student directly, make sure they are looking at you. Don’t speak too softly, but don’t yell at them either.
It’s imperative to be patient with these students. Observe how they learn best, and then apply those tactics into the time you have with them. If the time seems too short to get through the entire lesson, suggest they consider choosing longer sessions. Assisting these students allows growth for them as a learner and growth for you as an educator! You can also help them feel proud of themselves and build on their self-confidence.
For information about tutoring students with ADD, ADHD or Autism, visit part 1 of this series.