SPW is committed to raising awareness about dyslexia throughout the month of October, and celebrating the many gifts and talents our students living with dyslexia possess.
October is national Dyslexia Awareness Month. In 2018, SPW decided to support this national initiative, lending our time and resources to this cause. Once again, in 2019, we are continuing our focus on literacy and supporting those living with dyslexia.
Across the month we’ll be raising awareness with children, teachers and parents through a variety of activities. The children will be engaging in fun, informative activities at school, including watching a video during assembly, paper plane making and red donut day. Our teaching staff will be learning more about supporting children with dyslexia from educational consultants from SPELD.
As a parent community we invite you to get involved with our 3 easy steps below.
There are three main actions parents can take throughout Dyslexia Awareness Month:
- READ – Raise your awareness by reading our article below as we share information about dyslexia, the importance of early intervention and how you can support those living with dyslexia.
- ATTEND – Learn more about dyslexia by attending our Guest Speaker Event with Educational Consultant Bill Hansberry. Learn more here.
- WATCH – Shed light on the real challenges children living with dyslexia face while acknowledging their strengths and potential.
What is Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects 1 in 5 people. It 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 (Rose Review, 2009). Because of the way a dyslexic brain is wired, students living with dyslexia often have gifts or strengths in areas that their non-dyslexic peers do not.
Early identification is the key to helping students living with dyslexia experience success in life. At SPW we have been implementing the Phonics’ Screen for the past 3 years.
This, along with diagnostic spelling assessments, and in depth screening assessments for students identified to be ‘at risk’, means we are picking up students with dyslexia earlier than ever before.
If you have any concerns about your child, or have family history of dyslexia, please discuss this with your child’s teacher.
Intervention is most effective up to Year 3 and we have made it a top priority to ensure classroom practice and interventions are in place to support these students. We also support students that qualify for our before-school programs in MiniLit, MacqLit and the Playberry Multi-Sensory program.
Early interventions with appropriate teaching methods that are multi-sensory and follow a highly structured language approach, and incorporate the use of systematic, synthetic phonics taught through explicit, direct instruction is critical.
Evidenced Based Teaching
Here at SPW we have adopted evidence based teaching methods for the teaching of reading and spelling in the classroom. Explicit, direct instruction is the best way for students with dyslexia and all students to be taught.
To support the teaching of reading in the early years we have heavily invested in decodable readers from Foundation to Year 2. These benefit all our readers, but especially our students with dyslexia.
Decodable readers provide early readers with words they can sound out. They contain letter sound relationships that have been explicitly taught. This gives all our children the opportunity to experience success and develop positive attitudes towards reading.
We also provide high interest decodable readers from Year 3-5 and the change in attitudes towards reading from students accessing these readers has been remarkable.
They are suddenly able to decode and lift the text off the page and attend to other reading skills such as fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Something that has been difficult and laborious before.
For our older students using assistive technologies and learning how to use talk to text apps and reading apps like Speechify can provide the bridge they need to success.
Seeing Strengths and Celebrating Uniqueness
It’s also important to highlight the remarkable strengths many of our students with dyslexia have. We have students with physical strengths that excel in sports and have excellent hand-eye and foot-eye coordination.
We have students who have incredible mental strengths and show persistence, overcome obstacles and are big picture thinkers. We have students who tell amazing stories and have incredible vocabularies.
Some of our students have an incredible understanding of mechanics, electronics and computers and are highly inquisitive. Within the arts we have students who are able to visualise in three dimensions and from every angle, see the world in incredible detail, and have a heightened appreciation of colour and form.
Many students living with dyslexia have excellent memory for rhythm, beat and tone. They are often strong communicators, fantastic organisers, and good at delegating, quick-witted and funny, caring, intuitive and switched on. It goes without saying that these students have a very bright future ahead when we focus on ability rather than disability.
Here at SPW we advocate and support the 1 in 5 people living with dyslexia. With the appropriate support these students can shine!
Visit the following sites more information about Dyslexia
• Dyslexia SA
• Code Read Dyslexia Network
• SPELD SA
• Five from Five
• Lex and Me, from Learnersaurus (ages 4-8)
• It’s Called Dyslexia, by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos (ages 4-7)
• Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester (ages 4-7)
• My names is
Brain Brian, by Jeanne Betancourt (ages 8-12)
• Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (ages 8-12+)
• Dyslexia Is My Superpower (Most of the Time), by Margaret Rooke (ages 12+)
• Dyslexia: Mason’s Story by Isabella Evans
Thank you to Jo Hirst, Learning Support teacher, for sharing this story.