How to Teach Students With Dyslexia? 14 Evidence-Based Tips (2023)

Feb 09 2021

Positive Action Staff

Special Education

A dyslexic student’s arrival in your classroom can forge a step into the unknown, especially if it’s the first time you’ve had that experience.

Dyslexia affects somewhere between 5 and 10% of the population, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

Here’s the good news: there are many easy-to-implement teaching tips and tricks educators continue to use with great success. Quite a few of them will benefit your entire class — and not just your students who have dyslexia.

And there’s more good news to add. If you’re not strictly teaching students to read, write, or spell — you can still use many of the tips we’ll be discussing. So math, science, and even art and P.E. educators can benefit from these tips, too.

Here’s an overview of the types of teaching tips for students with dyslexia we’ll be covering today:

  1. A Brief Look at How Dyslexia Affects Students
  2. Teaching Tips That Benefit the Entire Class
  3. One-on-One Learning Ideas
  4. How Positive Action can Help

A Brief Look at How Dyslexia Affects Students

Beyond Teaching Children With Dyslexia to Read

We most closely associate dyslexia with difficulty learning to read and with other language and reading skills like writing and spelling. Dyslexia, however, goes beyond letters, spelling, and learning to read and write.

Dyslexia can affect how a child comprehends what they read and even what they remember. It can cause students to have difficulty following directions.

Dyslexia and Math Skills

Somewhere between 60 and 100% of people with dyslexia experience difficulty learning math.

Children with dyslexia often struggle with math because they have problems following directions, remembering steps, keeping things neat and ordered, and recognizing the meanings of symbols — all required aspects when learning math.

For example, a child with dyslexia may have trouble completing a crowded, busy math worksheet. The student may not remember the complicated steps to solve a mathematical equation or geometric proof.

Yet, challenges in learning are just the beginning.

Students With Dyslexia and Bullying

Children with dyslexia are often teased and bullied — partly because they’re viewed as different from the other students and partly because their learning differences often single them out for special attention from teachers.

Bullying is a significant problem for all students with special needs, as their differences make them easy targets for bullies. Low self-esteem from simply living with a disability adds to the problem.

For ways to counteract and prevent bullying in your classroom, have a look at our bullying products and services.

That said, there are also certain positives for children with dyslexia.

Advantages of Dyslexia

Now for some advantages students with dyslexia experience. Studies at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere have proven that adults and children with dyslexia better understand visual information — such as spotting differences and gaining a broader, more inclusive view.

In the words of one researcher:

“While typical readers may tend to miss the forest because its view is blocked by all the trees, people with dyslexia may...miss the trees, but see the forest.” — Matthew H. Schneps

And these abilities are not just limited to visual perceptions, but sound and hearing, as well. Students with dyslexia can often detect softer sounds, hear a single voice in a crowded, noisy room, or excel at musical abilities.

So while it may be more challenging to teach children with dyslexia to read or spell, they may have surprising other talents your students without dyslexia don’t have.

Let’s look at methods you can adopt to benefit all your students.

Teaching Tips That Benefit the Entire Class

Take Some Advice from the OG (Approach, That Is)

Two very famous educators named Orton and Gillingham developed an approach to teaching children with dyslexia that has since been found to help non-dyslexic students as well.

It’s called the Orton-Gillingham approach.

While it’s specifically geared towards helping students learn to read — from letters to phonics to independent learning with proficient reading skills — the method introduces aspects that can help you teach any child any subject.

The Orton-Gillingham approach stresses teaching methods that are:

  • Multisensory — since dyslexia affects the way the brain processes visual information, engaging the other senses like touch and sound works around this deficit

  • Direct — it’s helpful for the students to know what they are to learn, why they need to understand it, and how it will be taught

  • Systematic and sequential — step by step, building upon the skills already mastered

  • Positive and reinforcing — focus on the successes, the work that was done well, and the individual skill strength, rather than overall performance

  • Emotionally sound — focusing on the positive and on each child’s success concerning their prior skillsets creates a learning environment that fosters positive mental attitudes and self-esteem

There are many ways to implement these strategies into your teaching methods, no matter what subject or age you teach.

From Scrabble tiles and magnetic letters for teaching spelling, to math manipulatives at any grade level, to hands-on science, art, and music lessons — this approach’s multi-sensory aspect benefits all students.

And whether it’s a lesson on how to spell three-letter words or Einstein’s theory of relativity — knowing what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they will learn it gives all students a sense of the goal and the structure of their learning.

Nearly every subject from math to P.E. should be approached similarly to teaching language arts: as a set of subskills that can be mastered in a systematic, ground-up, sequential way.

Awareness of this approach can make a massive difference in a student’s performance.

And what student wouldn’t benefit from a focus on success and individual progress in an atmosphere of positive reinforcement?

General Classroom Tips

Here are some other tips that can help all your students, in all of your subjects — from teaching a five-year-old child with dyslexia to read, to teaching middle schoolers to spell, to teaching teenagers trigonometry:

  1. Don’t punish students for forgotten or lost items. Instead, set up systems to keep everything in its place.

  2. Create bookmarks or take-home slips with homework assignments that include numbered step by step instructions.

  3. Allow voice recorders in place of note-taking.

  4. Allow typed and printed assignments instead of handwritten. Using word processors on computers can eliminate spelling and grammar issues in essays, reports, stories, and poems.

  5. Create an “oral” classroom with “thinking time” that allows for more spoken answers. Prompt answers from more than one student for each question to provide different linguistic and auditory inputs.

  6. Provide opportunities for private reading and writing every day. This will help reinforce skills without the potential for public embarrassment.

  7. Explicitly teach how to break down assignments and tasks into their ordered, separate, sequential parts.

  8. Include “fun” learning in your curriculum — board games, puzzles, workbooks, computer games, and other fun and exciting activities (especially those created specifically for people with dyslexia).

Now let’s look at some ways you can help the student with dyslexia in a more personalized manner.

One-On-One Teaching Tips

What NOT to Do With Your Students With Dyslexia

Let’s first look at some things not to do when teaching a student with dyslexia, regardless of age:

  • Don’t ask them to read aloud. It can lead to embarrassment and a sense of failure.
  • Don’t ask them to copy things from a board or text.
  • Don’t expect them to complete assignments as quickly as the rest of the class.

Tips You SHOULD Be Using

Now, let’s get to the things you should do for your student with dyslexia:

  1. Set up a study carrel or individual space with noise-canceling headphones to help eliminate distractions.

  2. Allow the use of headphones and text-to-speech screen readers for any in-class lessons on a computer. The software will “read” the text on the screen, so the student doesn’t have to. Encourage them to set one up at home, too.

  3. Provide an Aline reader to help with written text and create templates that highlight just one math worksheet problem at a time.

  4. Provide copies of the text and highlighter markers when you are covering textbook material. Guide the student on what to highlight for future reference.

  5. Work with the student’s parents so they can help their child at home in an appropriate manner, using some of your tips and tools. Simple awareness of dyslexia might not equate to proper management of the learning disability at home.

  6. Ensure parents follow through with their child practicing the non-academic skills they’ll need to succeed throughout life — like following instructions, breaking tasks into smaller parts, “everything in its place,” etc.

How Positive Action Can Help

Positive Action supports teachers of all grade levels. We offer evidence-based curricula for special needs kids that enhance learning skills, improve classroom management, create positive school communities, and strengthen your students’ families and your school’s community.

Register for a 15-minute webinar overview of everything we offer. We can help you create the classroom, the school, and the community all your students deserve.



How to Teach Students With Dyslexia? 14 Evidence-Based Tips? ›

Evidence-based reading instruction for dyslexia must include all 5 components outlined by the National Reading Panel. These 5 components are phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension instruction.

What are evidence based dyslexia strategies? ›

Evidence-based reading instruction for dyslexia must include all 5 components outlined by the National Reading Panel. These 5 components are phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension instruction.

What is the best teaching method for dyslexia? ›

Experts agree that the best practice for teaching children with dyslexia is to teach them by engaging all their senses (multisensory teaching). This means using visuals, motion, body movement, hands-on, and auditory elements in their learning.

How can I help my 14 year old with dyslexia? ›

How can you help your dyslexic teen at home?
  1. Find reading they enjoy. Even for teens without reading problems, the books on the school syllabus don't always get them excited. ...
  2. Help to personalise their learning. ...
  3. Keep a dedicated study space.

How teachers can help students with dyslexia? ›

Teachers may also consider the following inclusive strategies when giving instructions:
  • Offering written step-by-step directions and reading them aloud.
  • Keeping instructions simple.
  • Showing students how to break assignments into smaller tasks.
  • Providing checklists that help students monitor their understanding and progress.
Jan 17, 2023

What is an example of evidence-based teaching strategies? ›

Ask many questions and observe student responses; questions allow students to connect new material with prior learning. Provide models such as step-by-step demonstrations or think alouds to work out the problem. Guide student practice by asking good questions and providing feedback.

What are three evidence-based strategies? ›

Three evidence-based strategies for mathematics instruction are visual representations, metacognitive strategies, and schema instruction.

What is Orton-Gillingham method of teaching dyslexia? ›

Orton–Gillingham is a structured literacy approach. It introduced the idea of breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time.

What is a multisensory teaching approach for dyslexia? ›

What is meant by multisensory teaching? Multisensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

How do you teach a dyslexic child to read and write? ›

How to teach kids with dyslexia to read
  1. Quick tip 1. Make reading multisensory. Make reading multisensory. ...
  2. Quick tip 2. Tap out the syllables. Tap out the syllables. ...
  3. Quick tip 3. “Scoop” words into phrases. “Scoop” words into phrases. ...
  4. Quick tip 4. Use a whisper phone. Use a whisper phone. ...
  5. Quick tip 5. Listen to audiobooks.

How to treat dyslexia in students? ›

  1. Learn to recognize and use the smallest sounds that make up words (phonemes)
  2. Understand that letters and strings of letters represent these sounds and words (phonics)
  3. Understand what is read (comprehension)
  4. Read aloud to build reading accuracy, speed and expression (fluency)
Aug 6, 2022

How do you modify lessons for students with dyslexia? ›

Some accommodations to enhance successful interactive instructional activities are:
  1. Use explicit teaching procedures. ...
  2. Repeat directions. ...
  3. Maintain daily routines. ...
  4. Provide a copy of lecture notes. ...
  5. Provide students with a graphic organizer. ...
  6. Use step-by-step instruction. ...
  7. Simultaneously combine verbal and visual information.

What are evidence-based intervention techniques? ›

Evidence-based health or public health methods and interventions are practices, procedures, programs, or policies that have been proven effective. The effects are clearly linked to the activities, themselves, not to outside, unrelated events.

What is evidence based teaching style? ›

Evidence-based teaching is one of five key synergistic and often interdependent domains–along with innovation, diversity, technology, and assessment & evaluation–that guide the resources, services, and mission of the CTI. Evidence-based research on teaching and learning is the backbone of CTI services.

What is an evidence based teaching plan? ›

Evidence-based instruction is supported by intensive research, rather than subjective case studies or untested theories. These strategies have an impact on student results that it is substantially higher than typical strategies. Teachers can use these practices on a wide range of subject areas and in all classes.

What are the 4 sources of evidence-based practice? ›

When we apply EBP to management decisions, the four main sources of evidence used are scientific literature, organizational data, stakeholders' concerns, and professional expertise.

What are the 4 areas of evidence-based practice? ›

Evidence-based practice includes the integration of best available evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values and circumstances related to patient and client management, practice management, and health policy decision making.

What are any three 3 models of evidence-based practice? ›

This article describes a new model and process to implement evidence-based practice. This model builds on concepts from the Iowa Model of Evidence-Based Practice, the Stetler model, and Rosswurm and Larrabee's model.

What is the difference between dyslexia Davis method and Orton-Gillingham? ›

This approach also uses a multi-sensory approach, incorporating visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile senses, she says. Positive Dyslexia's Hall says major difference between Orton-Gillingham and The Davis Method is the Orientation Counselling and the Davis Method does not teach phonetics.

Is Orton-Gillingham best for dyslexia? ›

Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas, including a “multisensory” approach, which is considered highly effective for teaching students with dyslexia.

What reading method is dyslexia? ›

The Orton-Gillingham approach is the “gold standard” for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia. It focuses at the word level by teaching the connections between letters and sounds. Orton–Gillingham also uses what's called a multisensory approach.

What are kinesthetic activities for dyslexia? ›

Kinesthetic Learning

One common kinesthetic teaching method used with dyslexics is 'air writing', where students say a letter out loud whilst simultaneously writing it in the air. The same exercise can be done in sand or with plasticine. Anything that connects body movement to learning is kinesthetic.

What are sensory activities for dyslexia? ›

Specific tactile techniques include the use of letter tiles, coins, dominoes, poker chips, sand, raised line paper, textures and finger paints. Small puzzles such as the rubik's cube also involve tactile learning. Finally, modeling materials such as clay or plasticine make for good tactile learning media.

What is the MTA curriculum for dyslexia? ›

What is MTA? MTA, or the Multisensory Teaching Approach, is a multisensory curriculum, designed to be used with students in grades K-12 for the remediation of students with dyslexia. MTA was authored in 1978 and later published by Margaret Taylor Smith in 1987.

What worsens dyslexia? ›

Dyslexia symptoms don't 'get worse' with age. That said, the longer children go without support, the more challenging it is for them to overcome their learning difficulties. A key reason for this is that a child's brain plasticity decreases as they mature. This impacts how quickly children adapt to change.

What not to say to a dyslexic student? ›

5 things not to say to your child about dyslexia
  • “If you try harder, you'll read better.” ...
  • “Other kids don't need to know about your dyslexia.” ...
  • “Maybe we should think about alternatives to college where reading isn't so important.” ...
  • “If you don't learn to read, you'll never be successful.”

What do people with dyslexia struggle with the most? ›

Dyslexia is a 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. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.

What are the 4 types of dyslexia? ›

The 4 types of dyslexia include phonological dyslexia, surface dyslexia, rapid naming deficit, and double deficit dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disorder where the person often has difficulty reading and interpreting what they read.

How do you teach phonics to dyslexics? ›

play games using the groups of sounds – this is easy with any board game using target words on flashcards which students must read or spell on their turn. have students highlight/trace the target sound in a specific color as they say the sound as one of the first activities when introducing a new sound.

How do you communicate with a dyslexic child? ›

8 tips for introducing dyslexia to your child
  1. Choose the right setting for your talk. ...
  2. Explain what dyslexia means. ...
  3. Use clear and accurate language. ...
  4. Explain how the school will help. ...
  5. You're there for your child. ...
  6. Discuss sibling relationships. ...
  7. Offer guidance on how to talk to friends. ...
  8. Reassure your child about the future.

What are evidence based intervention strategies? ›

Evidence-based health or public health methods and interventions are practices, procedures, programs, or policies that have been proven effective. The effects are clearly linked to the activities, themselves, not to outside, unrelated events.

What is an evidence based learning strategy? ›

Evidence-based instruction is supported by intensive research, rather than subjective case studies or untested theories. These strategies have an impact on student results that it is substantially higher than typical strategies. Teachers can use these practices on a wide range of subject areas and in all classes.

What is an evidence based strategy? ›

What are evidence-based strategies? Evidence-based strategies are programs, practices or activities that have been evaluated and proven to improve student outcomes. Districts can have confidence that the strategies are likely to produce positive results when implemented.

What is an evidence based intervention strategy? ›

Evidence-based interventions are practices or programs that have evidence to show that they are effective at producing results and improving outcomes when implemented. The kind of evidence described in ESSA has generally been produced through formal studies and research.

What are some examples of evidence-based practices? ›

Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing Examples
  • Use of oxygen to help with hypoxia and organ failure in patients with COPD.
  • Management of angina.
  • Protocols regarding alarm fatigue.
  • Recognition of a family member's influence on a patient's presentation of symptoms.
  • Noninvasive measurement of blood pressure in children.

What are 5 examples of intervention strategies? ›

Let's take a look at the most commonly used intervention strategies:
  • Behavioural Interventions. ...
  • Collaborative Interventions. ...
  • One-to-One Interventions. ...
  • Classroom-Based Interventions. ...
  • Social, Emotional and Wellbeing Interventions. ...
  • Peer Tutoring. ...
  • Metacognition and Self-Regulation. ...
  • Homework.
Jul 9, 2021

What are the 6 major intervention strategies? ›

6 steps to create an effective interventions strategy
  • Step 1: Define the outcome. ...
  • Step 2: Carefully plan your intervention. ...
  • Step 3: Start small. ...
  • Step 4: Scale up your intervention. ...
  • Step 5: Make sure you're monitoring progress. ...
  • Step 6: Share best practice!

What are the four steps involved with developing evidence-based strategies? ›

Step 4: Make Your Clinical Decision
  • Evidence-Based Practice.
  • Step 1: Frame Your Clinical Question.
  • Step 2: Gather Evidence.
  • Step 3: Assess the Evidence.
  • Step 4: Make Your Clinical Decision.

Are there four steps involved with developing evidence-based strategies? ›

Evidence-Based Practice
  • Overview of EBP.
  • Step 1: Ask the Question. Define the Problem/Opportunity. PICO. Types of Questions.
  • Step 2: Acquire the Evidence. Study Design. Search for Evidence.
  • Step 3: Appraise the Evidence. Biostatistics. Appraisal Tools.
  • Steps 4: Apply the Evidence. Implementation.
  • Step 5: Assess the Results.
Sep 26, 2022

What are evidence-based interventions in education? ›

What are Evidence Based Interventions (EBI)? Evidence-based interventions (EBI) are treatments that have been proven effective (to some degree) through outcome evaluations. As such, EBI are treatments that are likely to be effective in changing target behavior if implemented with integrity.

What are evidence-based interventions for children? ›

Evidence-supported interventions are well-defined practices, programs, services, or policies that have been shown, through rigorous evaluation, to improve outcomes for children and families in comparison to one or more alternatives.

What are the most effective ways to come to an evidence-based solution? ›

5 steps of Evidence Based Practice
  • Ask a question. ...
  • Find information/evidence to answer question. ...
  • Critically appraise the information/evidence. ...
  • Integrate appraised evidence with own clinical expertise and patient's preferences. ...
  • Evaluate.

What are the evidence-based classroom management strategies? ›

  • Maximize structure in the classroom. ...
  • Teach, monitor, and reinforce expectations and rules. ...
  • Actively engage students. ...
  • Continuum of classroom-implemented strategies to acknowledge appropriate behavior. ...
  • Continuum of classroom-implemented strategies to respond to inappropriate behavior. ...
  • Maximize Structure. ...
  • Expectations and Rules.


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