Never Giving Up On Dyslexic Students

Date: April 16, 2014 Author: Jill Categories: Dyslexia

Never Giving Up

Anxiety, anger, depression, and frustration are battled daily by dyslexic students. However, these feelings can be beat with the right encouragement and habits. Research shows that successful dyslexic individuals often have similar factors in their upbringing: he/she had a supportive and encouraging mentor(s), he/she found an area of interest to succeed in, and many also develop a passion for helping others. At The Reading Tutor, we have found that it is important for teachers, tutors, and families to offer consistent support to dyslexic students; provide a safe and reassuring environment where the dyslexic individual is comfortable expressing his/her feelings and testing his/her capabilities.

Because academics can be frustrating for dyslexic students, it is important for teachers and tutors to reward effort rather than just the outcome of a project. For younger children, small trinkets (stickers, colorful pencils, candy, etc.) can be used to reward for effort; activities can be broken down into sections and rewards given for the effort applied to each one. With older children, teens, and adults verbal encouragement and praise should be thoughtful; rather than saying “I am proud of your effort today,” say “You should be proud of what you accomplished.” The difference is slight, but by placing the emphasis on what the individual should feel instead of your own feelings, you are fostering a sense of self-worth and pride in him/herself (of course older students also appreciate candy every now and then too).

Students with dyslexia need to believe in themselves and know that they can succeed. Since tutors generally spend more one-on-one time with students that their teachers, they are often more trusted by a student. Therefore, it is imperative that tutors reinforce the idea that these students are smart and can attain their goals. Because of the initial struggle with school, many dyslexic students may feel that they will never achieve academically or have a successful career; this is simply not true. For younger dyslexic students, the book series Hank Zipzer – The World’s Greatest Underachiever, (created by dyslexic actor Henry Winkler of Happy Days) about the struggles and triumphs of a young boy with dyslexia can be quite encouraging. For older dyslexic students, there are many well-known people with dyslexia that can be pointed to as role-models, showing that they can succeed:

Albert Einstein

  • Albert Einstein
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Anderson Cooper
  • Tom Cruise
  • Patrick Dempsey
  • Walt Disney
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Dustin Hoffman
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Keira Knightley
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Robin Williams
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • John Grisham
  • John Irving
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Mark Twain
  • Jules Verne

Helping dyslexic students discover an interest and area they can succeed in will do wonders for developing an interest and investment in education. Often, dyslexic students will believe they are not meant to do well in school but they really just need to find their niche to triumph. The Reading Tutor staff believe you can help students  find an area of interest to develop through a few different questions:

  • What do you like to do when you’re not doing school work? (while many might be quick to discount watching TV, remember that discussing a favorite show might reveal an interest in a particular area)
  • If you could spend your spring/winter break doing anything you wanted, what would you do?
  • What is your favorite class/subject in school right now? Tell me about why you like it.
  • Who is your favorite teacher? What do you like about how he/she teachers? (this can be helpful in identifying what teaching methods work best for the student)

Once you’ve identified the student’s area of interest, encourage him/her to pursue it! Here in sunny Wellington, Florida there are many cultural sites and activities year round that can be incorporated as outings or field trips to encourage and spark interest in a variety of subjects!

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