Read and Spell Blog

Activities for stroke patients

7 Activities for stroke patients

For the majority of stroke patients, the road to recovery is a long one that includes many hours of therapy aimed at restoring both physical strength and language capacity. People who suffer a serious stroke may lose the ability to coordinate muscles and execute complex movements.

They can have trouble performing routine tasks including bathing, dressing and feeding themselves. Some will experience numbness or lose feeling in their limbs. Many will have difficulty understanding and producing language. While it is not always possible to recover completely from a stroke, with the right treatment plan quality of life can be improved.

Tips for adult learners

9 Tips for adult learners

Adult learners approach education in a very different way than younger students. Many will be studying part-time as they continue to work and support their families. They tend to know more about their individual strengths and weaknesses as students, have set attitudes toward school, and be more intrinsically motivated.

An adult can bring real world experience into the classroom, which often enriches lessons. Older learners may also carry negative emotions, including reservations about entering college later in life and some fear and anxiety about being students again. However, with the right approach to study, every learner, no matter what their age or situation, can reach their full potential in the classroom.

Touch typing for dyslexics

Touch typing for dyslexics

For a significant number of children and adults, developing strong literacy skills requires overcoming the challenges posed by specific learning differences, such as dyslexia. Dyslexia impacts on reading, writing and spelling abilities but can also cause individuals to suffer from low self-esteem and lack confidence in the classroom.

While it is something people have for life, technology and strategy use can make language-based activities easier. For example, typing on a computer gives children and adults access to spell-checkers and helpful text-to-speech tools.

Mnemonic devices aid with learning the spelling of hard words. Memorizing high frequency vocabulary reduces the cognitive load involved in reading. Additionally, dyslexics who have had training in touch typing can reinforce phonics knowledge, use muscle memory to learn word spellings, and facilitate the translation of ideas into written language.

This renders the writing process less frustrating and makes composing written work more fluid and effective.

volunteering to teach adults to read

Volunteering to teach adults to read

Not everyone becomes a strong reader during childhood. Poor literacy skills can be the result of a dysfunctional home situation, a physical impairment or an undiagnosed learning difficulty. 

Unfortunately, without functional literacy, it is difficult for adults to access further education, provide for their families and navigate daily life in an urban society. Lacking reading and spelling skills also cause embarrassment, shame and low self-esteem for affected individuals who may believe they are less intelligent than others and/or simply “not good” at reading and writing.

In many cases, all that’s needed is an intervention and a sustained programme of skills development. This might entail finding a tutor who is willing to volunteer on a regular basis and dedicate time to helping the adult regain their confidence and learn to read.

strategies for dysgraphia

9 Strategies for dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning difficulty that impacts on writing skills. While no two individuals will experience the same set of symptoms, it is a brain-based disorder that can cause difficulty with forming letters, spacing words and even organizing text into complete sentences. Students with dysgraphia may struggle with taking notes in class, completing homework and long-term assignments, and performing well on traditional assessment measures.

For these individuals writing is often both difficult and painful, causing everything from cramping in the muscles of the hand to excessive sweating and high anxiety. Over time, this can lead to poor performance and falling behind in lessons due to an inability to take notes. It may also result in avoidance of school and extra-curricular activities that involve producing written work.

Fortunately, there are strategies and classroom accommodations for dysgraphia that can help, including allowing the use of audio-recorders and learning touch-typing so computers are used as an alternative to handwriting.

7 Tips for working with dyslexia

7 Tips for working with dyslexia

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning difficulties affecting both children and adults. While no two individuals struggle with the same set of symptoms, most people with dyslexia must work harder than their peers to develop literacy skills.

They may need more time to read and write, and experience high levels of frustration navigating numbers. For students, this can pose a significant challenge. However, the situation can be just as stressful for working adults who have the added pressure of performance goals and feeling confident and capable at work, especially in front of clients, co-workers and managers.

Self-confidence vs self-esteem

Self-confidence vs self-esteem

The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often conflated. Confidence is a measure of faith in one’s own abilities; esteem is about our sense of self. It involves both thoughts and emotions and influences how we perceive others and interact with the world.

When children have healthy self-esteem, they tend to be confident.

Similarly, if a child has a negative self-view, which is often the case for learners with undiagnosed learning difficulties, it can cause them to lack confidence in classroom activities, particularly in tasks that involve reading and writing.

Challenging spelling words

Challenging spelling words

While most words are relatively easy to learn, every individual will encounter challenging spelling words that they frequently misspell. Making spelling mistakes is frustrating for students and can lead to low self-esteem for learners who may be labelled as lazy and penalized by losing points on written work.

For adults, having poor spelling skills can cause them to miss out on career opportunities and lose face in front of friends and family. It’s important to understand that spelling skills have nothing to do with intelligence and that there are plenty of strategies that can help. If spelling becomes a persistent problem, there may also be an undiagnosed learning difficulty to blame.

What are learning difficulties?

What are learning difficulties?

Learning difficulties, known as learning disabilities in North America, are conditions that impact on an individual’s ability to gain knowledge and skills at the same rate as his or her peers. They may be due to a mental handicap or a cognitive disorder.

Having a learning difficulty does not make someone less intelligent, it just means they learn in a different way that can render traditional classroom activities problematic. That’s why people with learning difficulties often require specific strategy training and customized lessons in order to overcome challenges and make progress in an academic environment.

Left-handed and dyslexic

Left-handed and dyslexic

It is sometimes said that certain mood disorders and learning difficulties are more common in people who favour their left hand. Researchers have not yet found a genetic link between dyslexia and handedness and individuals with dyslexia, a learning difficulty that impacts on reading, writing and spelling abilities, are split 50:50 between right and lefthandedness.

However, there are fewer lefthanded people in the world. In fact, the difference is 90:10. This means that dyslexia may be more commonly found in lefthanded people but the relationship is not necessarily causal. There is also the question of whether or not it is more common in boys than girls.

Some evidence suggests dyslexia is just as prevalent in girls as boys but not as well recognized, while other studies (Quinn & Wagner 2015) have found reading difficulties occur more often in male individuals.

Teaching literacy skills to adults

Teaching literacy skills to adults

Teaching reading to older learners can be a challenging experience for educators in adult basic skills programs. Teachers may find that every student in a classroom requires different material and that individuals vary greatly in ability level depending on their earlier experiences with reading instruction.

Often students experience frustration and anxiety that can get in the way of learning. They may have negative associations with school or learning difficulties that have gone undiagnosed and cause them to struggle with the basics of sounding out words.

However, with the right strategies in place and plenty of patience, praise and encouragement, teachers can help adult students overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.