Reading Strategies for Older Dyslexic Students

It seems that every time I go away I return to find a copy of the Oldie on my post shelf. This is a regular gift from a neighbour who is a fellow writer. Now recently there have been a few sunny days amidst all the rain of early 2020 I have managed to disappear to the allotment. True to form the February Oldie should arrive next week. I am still reading the January edition.

I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

1 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

2 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

3 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

4 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

5 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

6 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

7 Use your library and the knowledge of those working there. I used to take Writing magazine. Now I can visit the library to read it. The front cover tells me about the articles I will find within.

Good articles I have read in the past have been an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There was an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

But what interested me most was an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. This applies to students as well. I used to intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front but arthritis has robbed me of this treat at least for the time being.

These days, strolling will not lift the pounds. But I have a mobility scooter and using this ensures the fresh air and some human interaction and I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

Writing is the next best occupation to my previous career in teaching. It is one of the reasons I get up in the morning and why I enjoy The Oldie when it arrives. Good writing lies within.

Now I just need to find the time to read it! Perhaps I should revisit the advice above.

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