How to Help Dyslexic Students with Writing
When people hear or think about the word “dyslexia”, the first thing that comes to mind is reading problems. However, students with dyslexia often struggle with writing as well. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and sequencing can all be pain points with dyslexia.
One of the best things about homeschooling a child with dyslexia, though, is the option to offer 1:1 instruction and try multiple dyslexia writing strategies. Once you find the one that best helps your child improve their writing skills, this can greatly boost your young writer’s confidence.
Parents wondering how to help a dyslexic child write are usually curious about curriculum. Discover why online writing programs are often so effective for students with learning differences and about the features of Time4Learning’s writing curriculum that work especially well for these writers.
Can People with Dyslexia Write Well?
Although normally thought of as a reading disorder, dyslexia can also affect writing. Yet, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some of the most celebrated authors in the world have (or had) dyslexia, including:
- John Irving
- W. B. Yeats
- Jeanne Betancourt
- George Bernard Shaw
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Agatha Christie
When queried about their learning difference, many of those authors report it actually improved their writing because it forced them to think more creatively.
Dave Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series, speaks about his dyslexia this way: “When I was a kid, comics were sort of my way of connecting with my classmates. I was often separated from everyone in my class… it was very tough, but comics and telling stories and being creative, that was my way to stay connected with everyone.”
Writing and Dyslexia
Students with dyslexia are commonly reluctant writers. Not only do they often struggle with the type of organizational skills that are required to plan out a composition, they also can have major difficulties transferring their thoughts into writing.
Consider how many distinct skills the task of writing requires:
- Writing in complete sentences
- Using proper spelling and grammar
- Choosing a topic
- Planning out a draft
- Creating a draft that is clear and readable
- The ability to detect errors in your writing
- Knowing how to edit and revise a written draft
It’s easy to see how many of these writing skills could be challenging for a child or teen with dyslexia. In addition, many people with dyslexia have a co-occuring disorder called “dysgraphia,” which is an impairment in the ability to write by hand. Learning keyboarding as early as possible can alleviate some of the frustrations of dysgraphia.
Although dyslexia presents challenges for students, it also bestows some distinct and wonderful gifts. Discover these 10 learning strengths of students with dyslexia.
Writing Strategies for Dyslexic Students
Many people with dyslexia show a strength in visual-spatial learning. As with reading, you can help your student with dyslexia improve their writing by using visual aids to help them connect words with objects or scenes. Mind mapping is an example of a visual technique that helps many children with dyslexia organize their thoughts before beginning to write.
Additional dyslexia writing strategies include:
- Identifying assistive technology tools that could remediate the specific challenges for your student such as word prediction programs and speech recognition software.
- Encouraging your young writer to focus only on content in their first draft; grammar and spelling can be edited in later drafts.
- Using writing rubrics to aid your homeschooler in identifying errors in his/her writing.
Online Writing Programs for Dyslexia
Because of the difficulties they often have with handwriting and transferring thoughts into letters and words, writing programs that require paper and pen are usually a poor choice for students with dyslexia. Certainly, elementary students need the fine motor practice that handwriting instruction offers, but composition will likely be more successful via keyboard.
For that reason, many homeschoolers choose to use an online writing curriculum. Not only does a web-based writing program allow students to type their assignments, but it usually provides an interactive and multi-sensory approach that fits the learning needs of students with writing issues.
How Time4Learning Writing Helps Students with Dyslexia
Time4Learning’s built-in, online, customizable writing program for elementary, middle, and high school students is called Odyssey Writer. It is designed with dyslexia writing support tools such as:
- A note card tool that allows students to copy and paste information about their chosen topic
- Graphic organizers to assist in creating connections between ideas before transferring them to outline form
- A built-in word processor for drafting
- Rubrics that assist students in checking for common writing errors
- A spell-checker
Choose your subject and grade level to experience demos of Time4Learning’s interactive curriculum.
Have other questions about homeschooling a child with dyslexia? You may find the following pages helpful.