5 Tips for Teaching Writing Skills to Dyslexic Students

teacher helping student

Dyslexic students often struggle with writing.  Often what a dyslexic student writes is not what they are trying to say. This can be frustrating and confidence-crushing.

However, there are ways to overcome these obstacles. To get you started, here are five tips for teachers to use when working with dyslexic students:

Use Imagery

Dyslexic students rely more on visual thinking strategies than on word-based thinking. By using images and visual media in your lessons, you can help your students to connect the words they are trying to use to the object or scene that they are trying to describe.

Using pictures can help your students to describe what they’re trying to write about, as well as providing a common point of reference between teacher and student.  Encourage students to develop and use a rich descriptive vocabulary to describe details in the images.

Use Your Language Consistently

It’s important when you’re talking and writing with your students that you use the same phrases, language and words when describing elements of writing. For example, the terms ‘Headline’ and ‘Article Header’ technically mean the same thing but interchanging between these two phrases will make things confusing.

Educate Through Feedback

Provide specific and constructive feedback on the work that your students write. Instead of just correcting their work, go to each student individually to explore mistakes they have made. Go through what they got wrong, and why it is in correct.

For example, if a student has used a comma in the wrong place, don’t just circle it and say it was wrong. Instead, explain why the comma was used improperly and how to use it. You can also go through and ask why they decided to put a comma where they did to see why they thought it should have been there in the first place.

Ann Odell, a teacher and a tutor, explains;

“This may be time-consuming to go around every student in your class, but it’s so beneficial. One of the best ways I found to approach this situation is to create a ‘cheat-sheet’. This is a sheet that your students can refer to when using grammar and punctuation so they can be sure that they’re using them in the right places.”

Don’t forget to also include positive feedback or praise, for the strong points of writing.  Help the student understand that their ideas are worth sharing, even if they need help with expressing them.

Use Tools to Help Teaching

As a teacher, it’s important to realise that you’re not alone and there are many tools out there that can help to improve your style teaching and helps with certain processes. Here are some you can start using today.

For help with grammar and punctuation, try the tools at one of these sites:

For more in depth support, you will find extensive resources for the writing process, from pre-writing (invention) to developing research questions and outlines, composing thesis statements, and proofreading here:

Be Prepared for Inconsistency

“When it comes to dyslexic students, you must remember that they are going to have good days and bad days. One day they may completely understand the writing concept you are trying to describe, the next they may find the same information completely confusing” says educator Alan Walters.

Inconsistency is to be expected when it comes to dyslexic students so don’t push too hard and be as understanding as you can. Give appropriate feedback when it’s due in ways that your students will understand.