As a Kindergarten teacher I have worked with many children with "presumed dyslexia or reading differences." One frustration with how dyslexia is diagnosed is that testing often doesn't occur until 2nd grade. We are taught as teachers that early intervention is key to reading success with dyslexia however it is hard to find.
So, as frustrated teachers and parents we often wonder why dyslexia early intervention is often dismissed as developmental appropriateness? Why do we wait until 2nd grade to provide IEP's and 504 plans for students that we suspect are dyslexic? What are we waiting for? Even if it turns out that the child is not truly dyslexic there is a reason why they are struggling and they deserve all the help we can give them!
In my experience one of the dyslexia signs we see early on is letter reversals. While we know letter reversals in young children can be developmentally appropriate we can also pair this with other typical signs of dyslexia. Struggles with phonemic awareness, decoding, working memory and literacy are just some of the ways dyslexia looks like a possible issue in young children.
Making intervention for dyslexia visual at a young age can help with the most common dyslexia issue, letter reversals. Giving students visuals such as letter lines with hand motions and target letters with common objects are an easy way to support students that are struggling with common letter reversals. Use my FREE desk visuals for struggling students to reinforce letter direction and formation. Laminate them for the child so they can easily trace with dry erase markers then immediately write the letter or identify the letter on their page. Making learning multisensory can show marked improvement for students struggling with dyslexic letter reversals. Click the picture below to grab this freebie! (Don't forget the 2nd freebie!)
With letter reversals being prominent and developmentally appropriate in Kindergarten I use these on every desk in my classroom. Allowing all students to benefit from them and encouraging those strugglers without pointing them out. I also secure one to each of their reading folders so they can reference the same tools at home. I have these desk tools available in my writing center and my reading center for easy reference. I've even had students use them for bookmarks! With the permission of other teachers I have allowed students to take a copy with them to other classrooms.
So, how do we support students that may or may not be dyslexic? We provide targeted instruction that gives students the very best tips and tools for literacy. Along with the desk tags I teach all of my students the hand positions that can help them with b,d,p and q. I start with b and d and once the students are comfortable I add p and q. I love to see my students use this strategy for problem solving, confidence and independence.
Everyday practice is crucial, it may seem mundane to us as adults however, students with learning differences need many more repetitions and ways to practice phonemic awareness skills. When we identify words with these target letters we say the letter, do the hand motion and say the sound. Every single time! Trust me it is worth it!
Making practice with b,d,p and q multisensory will reach your kinesthetic and visual learners and give your auditory learners the extra practice they need. Once I identify my struggling students I intentionally differentiate their learning to include extra b,d,p, and q practice. I then add h,n,g,t and f. Once the students start to become comfortable with these consonants I give them a folder with my first set of Dyslexia Worksheets. I instruct them on how to complete each sheet and have parents practice through a few with them at home.
This does 2 things: supports student learning and gives parents a true understanding of their child's struggles.
There is not time in the classroom to do everything I would like to do for my struggling students. Usually parents are happy to help if you give them the tools. I will often send an email to ask for a conference and speak to the parents about the specific plans I have for their child. I show them the resources I plan to use and then ask for their help at home. Practice and repetition are key and once parents realize this they are usually happy to go with the plan. I have had parents that were too busy or whatever and have pulled those kids before/after school for help class. It is usually these students that struggle the most and breaks my heart:(
As part of my dyslexia letter reversal support strategy I will have each reading rotation for this group focus on a specific letter skill. From spelling CVC words that begin or end with a target letter or my Dyslexia Support Task Boxes. I have found that after direct instruction I can further the students learning by providing practice on key letters and sounds.
For direct instruction I use decodable readers that make identifying letter sounds as simple as possible. Until this year I was relying on printed readers from curriculum companies and trying to find the ones with the most b,d,p and q words. This year I decided to try to make some of my own readers and supporting activities. I have seen such growth in my struggling students with these. The curriculum companies books are ok and I still use them but the targeted books and supporting activities in these printable files have truly made a difference.
For my students a combination of direct instruction, supporting activities, centers and worksheets that focus on b,d,p and q has improved confidence, phonemic awareness, phonics skills and reading ability. To have a system in place to meet the needs of students struggling with dyslexia letter reversals, phonemic awareness, phonics, working memory and more grab the bundle of all my products that support dyslexia! This bundle will grow a I create more resources to help students that show signs of Dyslexia. I truly hope these resources are as useful to your students as they have been for mine. (Don't forget your freebie below!)
Click the picture below to try these new readers for FREE!