A Student Teacher’s Perspective (Guest Blog)

Dyslexia Awareness Hotline

Dyslexia Awareness Hotline (Photo credit: Scott M)

From a student teacher’s point of view.- Florence Beastall

As a PGCE student, I have had a university lecture on special education needs. One two hour lecture. And now I am expected to have a reasonable grasp and understanding of the infinite number of different needs that the children I am going to teach in the future might have.

Dyslexia is something I have a bit more knowledge of, and it is something which I am determined to assist my students with in whatever ways I can.

In my last teaching practice, there was a girl in my maths class who was dyslexic, but found it easier to read information from pink paper rather than white. I was aware that the colour of the paper can make a difference to how easy it is to read, at home we have reams of a pale yellow paper for my brother to print all his stuff out on as he finds it useful. I wasn’t aware, until I met this student, that pink is another colour that can make reading easier, and that the colour of paper is a very personal choice, varying in usefulness from person to person. Having found this out, I printed everything I could on pink paper for her, until the school ran out of pink paper and I moved onto card, I wasn’t having her struggle in my lessons for the sake of a bit of card!

I also have found that a coloured plastic wallet can be a cheap and easy way of making a book easier to read. The problem with a book is that you can’t change the colour of the paper, they’re all printed onto a dull white page, but if you found a pink, or light yellow coloured thick plastic folder, chop it up to a 20cm x 10cm rectangle, children can use them when reading a book to make the page their preferred colour. It can also help you to follow what line it is you’re reading, which is handy too. What’s more is that the children can use it as their bookmark and it doesn’t necessarily draw attention to the fact that they have something addition to help them with their reading, which may become important as children get older and more self-conscious about themselves and their special educational needs.

Whilst I was trawling the internet looking at other things I might be able to do to help my students, and perhaps mention to my brother, I came across a font which claims to make reading easier as it is “weighted” at the bottom, supposedly meaning that the letters cannot spin around as much as they might as you know that the “fat” bit of the letter should be at the bottom. I haven’t had the chance to test this out yet, but it is interesting and something that I am going to try. It’s called “open dyslexic” and is easy to download from their website, and it’s free, which is great.

From what I have experienced of dyslexia, there are many small adjustments that a teacher can make to aid a student with reading and writing. It is just a case of knowing about some of the easy things that you can do, which might make the world of difference to a child- which is where blogs like these come into their own.

Editor’s Comment from Bob Hext at Crossbow:

As well as being dyslexic, this child obviously suffered from Visual Stress , as about 30%-35% of dyslexics do (see the top article link below). As well as yellow and pink, blues and greens are common colour choices. The five most popular colours of our overlays and reading rulers are sky blue, aqua, grass green, yellow and pink.

PS our reading rulers do exactly what the little coloured plastic squares do, and come in ten colours. They cost £8.99 + VAT for a pack of ten , or $16.99 if you’re  in the USA.

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