PART 2: STRATEGIES TO HELP YOUR DYSLEXIC LEARNERS
In the last article, we looked at some of the common problems that pupils with dyslexia may encounter when learning to drive, including sequencing issues, and a weakness with short term memory. Let’s now look at some strategies to help your dyslexic learners.
By giving a brief overview of the subject, this helps learners to ‘see’ the overall picture. If you then back this up with the ‘why’ for each part of the subject, this enables all learners, but especially those with dyslexia, to put the learning into context. If they have difficulty with sequencing generally, this will help them to assimilate the information in a holistic way.
Try not to give too much information all at once, but break it down into more manageable ‘chunks’, to help your learner to assimilate the information more easily. It’s worth asking how they prefer to receive information; do they like visual diagrams or a video, a verbal explanation, or maybe a demonstration? You will find by using a combination of teaching styles, they will find sequencing becomes less of an issue.
Asking pupils to repeat back sequences may also be beneficial to ensure understanding, and to help transfer the information from their short-term to their long-term memory. However, some learners may find this a challenge, and if they feel under pressure, then the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin can cause ‘brain fog’. Learning simply cannot take place at this point, so other strategies may be required. Dealing with the emotions that learners experience will be covered in a future article.
A weakness in short-term memory
Using a variety of multi-sensory teaching methods will not only help with sequencing issues but will also help to transfer information from the short-term, or ‘working’ memory, in the frontal lobe of the brain, into the long-term memory, which is in the parietal lobe of the brain. Visualisation exercises can be very beneficial for helping with this transfer, and again, this will be covered in a future article.
If a learner has difficulty with manoeuvres, or which way to steer whilst reversing, transferring of skills can also aid them. As bizarre as it sounds, steering a child’s scooter or bike around a coffee table against a wall is a great way of learning parallel park! Sometimes the more bizarre the better, as everyone remembers more easily if the learning is fun and engaging. You will then find that not only is the skill transferred into the long-term memory, but also the retrieval of this information is much faster.
We think in pictures… and steering a scooter around a coffee table is a picture that isn’t easily forgotten!
The learning process should always be fun, engaging, positive and an active co-operation between you and your pupil. Take regular breaks to discuss what is working well, and if another strategy may prove more beneficial. Focus on your pupils’ strengths, and these will help to support their weaknesses. This also ensures that they experience achievement and success, thus reinforcing the positive learning environment. This is essential if they experience low self-confidence.
A dyslexic learner often has difficulty retaining information presented verbally, so ensure that you don’t overwhelm them with too much verbal instruction, but present the information in a variety of ways. In many cases, don’t expect learning to take place quickly; patience is required on both the part of the learner and the instructor. They will need more time to not only process, but also to absorb information. You can aid this by linking subjects, getting them to revise between lessons, and with lots of lots of over-learning.
A combination of strategies can be used to help your learners, including Multi Sensory Learning, Accelerated Learning, Brain Gym, and Mind Maps.
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Dyslexia and Self-esteem
This can be a major issue for many learners, especially if they have had extremely negative learning experiences at school, as they are likely to bring all the negative emotions that they experienced at school onto their driving lessons. Often, if they have not performed well academically, this can create a self-defeating cycle of low expectations of themselves, especially in the area of learning new skills, and one that they may perceive as very challenging.
Helping pupils to develop strategies to combat a range of negative emotions will be covered in another article.
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