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How to support dyslexic learners at home

One of the anomalies of school life is that week after week children are send home spellings to learn but very rarely are we ever taught how to learn spellings.


Some children learn spellings without even thinking, they just pick up spellings from what they read or copy from a book. Otherwise we adopt the methods we used at school and insist our children do the same.  In many cases this involves copying the words again and again.

But what if this doesn't work....

First you need to work out how your child learns best.  As much as learning styles have now been dismissed by the teaching profession, it is clear that when learning spelling we tend to have an AUDITORY or VISUAL preference.

The best clue is in the sort of spelling mistakes your child makes in their own writing.

Auditory preference - if they spell everything phonetically or using sounds for example  'becos', 'sed' and words that should follow a pattern are spelt the way they sound like 'startid' or 'lookt'

Visual preference - high frequency words are often spelt correctly 'house', 'like', 'said' but sounds may be missed out in other words 'wet' for went or letters may be in the wrong order 'gril' for girl

Mnemonics are a great way to learn spelling if you have strong auditory skills.  There are many well known mnemonics which some teachers use.

'Big elephants can always use small exits' for because
or 'o u lucky duck' for could, would, should

But much more fun and more meaningful is when children make up their own....








                                                        'Snakes and insects die' - said








                                                            'Nice insects can eat' - nice






                                           'caterpillars always kick elephants' - cake

'The funnier the better!  Drawing pictures and sharing them with other children all make them more memorable.

As a teacher it is wonderful to see children who have struggled with spellings for years get a few spellings securely under their belt.

Obviously children can not make mnemonics for every word but very often it is the break through needed to help children  believe they can learn spellings and that it can be fun!


ADHD Explained

When ADHD is mentioned many us of immediately think of a hyperactive boy who is out of control.  We also question whether it is just caused bad parenting and a lack of boundaries. We wonder if the child is simply being naughty or lazy.


But ADHD is far more than this narrow view and there are many misconceptions held by parents and educational professionals alike.


The first thing to say is that most people have some elements of ADHD some of the time, but for those with ADHD they are habitual difficulties that have a significant impact on everyday life.


In essence ADHD is a developmental impairment of the brain's Executive Function. This impairment is both the delay in these executive skills developing and that they do not work consistently.

One of the main areas affected is working memory, for this reason there is often overlap with other learning difficulties. Reading, Writing and Maths can all be areas of difficulty for children with ADHD.  Working memory also makes it difficult to hold more than one idea in your head and so doing a task that requires more than one process can be challenging. Also tasks were you have to

draw on prior learning and combine it with new information.


 Children with ADHD have difficulty with organisation and time management. They have trouble estimating how much time a task may take and prioritising what is important within a task. They often procrastinate and leave things until the last minute.  This affects their ability to manage homework tasks or longer projects. They may spend hours on one aspect of a project because they find it interesting but neglect or rush the main part of it because they run out of time.


They have trouble keeping focus and can be distracted by external noises and movement or internal thoughts. They also have difficult switching focus and gaining an overview of the whole situation. They very quick lose interest in a task particularly if it is tedious.  The busy classroom environment can be very challenging as it is full of distractions and most tasks require children to focus on several aspects at once.


As with all learning differences there is a spectrum of difficulties from mild to severe. Every individual is affected in a slightly different way. Impulsivity which is often the first thing people mention when discussing ADHD is only a difficulty for some children.


An important area which is often overlooked is the emotional side of ADHD. People with ADHD have difficulty managing their emotions.  Small upsets, frustrations and worries can flood their mind making it impossible to move on or focus.


One of the puzzles of ADHD is that each person has a number of tasks or situations where they have no difficulty in focusing.  This makes many teachers and parents think that it is just a matter of willpower. But people with ADHD find that even when they want to do something or know it is important they can struggle to get started. They focus best on something of high interest or when there is fear associated with not completing a task.


On the difficult subject of medication, stimulants like Ritalin or Concerta do help about 80% of people with ADHD.  However the way each person responds is different. For some it can make a huge difference, for others it may only help a little. While medication helps focus which can put a child in a better place to learn, it is not cure. Issues like working memory difficulties and lack of organisation do not do away. Support is still needed for the weak executive functions.


Many only associate ADHD with children. However it does not disappear in adulthood but the way it shows itself is different at different ages. Sometimes ADHD is noticed later in high school or even university when the scaffolding parents and teachers have provided gets taken away.

For more information take a look at

Thomas Brown PhD is very knowledge and has written many books including Smart but Stuck

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