How to teach kids with dyslexia to read

By Julie Rawe

Expert reviewed by Bob Cunningham, EdM

What’s the best way to teach kids with dyslexia how to read? The most helpful approach is called structured literacy. This way of teaching reading is:

  • Systematic: Reading skills are taught in a logical order. Kids have to master the basics before moving on to more complex skills. Example: A teacher makes sure kids can blend two letter-sounds before asking them to find those blends in words.
  • Explicit: Teaching is clear and direct. There’s no guesswork. Example: A teacher points to each letter in the word sit and says, “The first sound is /s/, the next sound is /ĭ/, and the last sound is /t/.” 
  • Diagnostic: Teachers constantly assess students to make sure they’re mastering concepts before moving on. Instruction is individualized. Example: After working on blending sounds, a teacher notices one student needs more practice. 

Structured literacy helps all kids learn to read. But it’s extra helpful for kids with dyslexia, who often have trouble with the basic skills of reading. Structured literacy helps kids build a solid foundation so they can develop more advanced reading skills. 

See a structured literacy lesson for grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers.

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About the author

About the author

Julie Rawe is the special projects editor at Understood.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.