K5T – Dyslexia: Obstacle or Opportunity?

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Recognizing dyslexia is just the first step.

What is Dyslexia?

    According to the Mayo Clinic, students with dyslexia have difficulties identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words causing reading difficulties. Although they have average ability and normal vision, they may struggle at school because the reading and writing difficulties cause frustration in other subjects that require reading, such as math, science, and social studies.

early indicators

    Before school, the child may be late speaking and may learn new words slowly. They may have difficulty forming words correctly. During pre-school years, they may have problems naming letters and may have trouble with numbers and even colors. Learning nursery rhymes can even be difficult to learn. 

Classroom Difficulties

    By the end of kindergarten and first grade, the child may be reading below level. They may have been in RTI groups and making little progress in reading. 

    They may also have difficulties processing and understanding what they hear or difficulty finding the right word when speaking and forming responses to what they want to share verbally. 

    Another sign is problems remembering things in sequence. They may also have trouble seeing similarities and differences in letters and words. 

    When trying to decode, they may not be able to phonetically sounds out unfamiliar words. They may learn sight words through memorization, and the dyslexia may be masked.   


    A child with dyslexia may have frustration and embarrassment that can cause he/she to avoid activities that involve reading, even games.

    By second grade, students are starting to read to learn and are moving beyond learning to read.  This causes a child with dyslexia to be at a disadvantage. Without early intervention, the child’s reading difficulties cause difficulties in every subject area.

    Dyslexia may cause a child to feel frustrated and less capable than peers. He/she may be embarrassed to share or read aloud when called on.  

How can I Help?

    If you have a reading specialist in your building, follow the procedure for referring the child for evaluation. If the child is not making the necessary progress through RTI intervention, consider if the child might benefit from special education reading or writing services specific to the child. The child might qualify for an individual education plan where trained special educators can give the child small group, individual, or a specific reading program. Then follow guidelines to provide the modifications and accommodations for the child’s learning plan.   

Readers' Theater

    How can Readers’ Theater help the child with dyslexia? Readers’ Theater can help all types of readers to gain confidence when reading aloud. Parts can be differentiated allowing each child to have a part at just the right reading level. Everyone gets a part, from your strongest reader to your most reluctant reader. You can use Readers’ Theater to create a safe non-judgmental environment where everyone is comfortable reading aloud.

    When reading aloud in whole group, give the student a chance to practice ahead if you know you are going to call on them to read. Reader’s Theater is excellent for this. If the child knows what part he/she will have, or can choose a preferred part, he/she can practice and read beautifully when taking a turn. 

    All readers can be successful and proud to take a part if they get a chance to practice in advance.   Often students with dyslexia are most expressive readers when taking on the persona of the character. 

    Use Readers’ Theater to help build confidence in your students with dyslexia and your reluctant readers.

Free Resources

    Watch our site for readers’ theater passages to use in your classroom.

Pause To Ponder!

    Dyslexia may be an obstacle to overcome, but it is not something that should be educational orlife limiting. A long list of brilliant people have been known to have dyslexia: Albert Einstein, Mozart, Alexander Graham Bell, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, and many more.

    What can you do to help your student overcome the dyslexia obstacles?

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