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27th November 2019

What works for children with literacy difficulties?

Literacy skills are essential to almost every subject a child studies in their school lives, so when a child is struggling to keep up with their peers, it is important that teaching strategies that work for them are implemented as soon as possible.

For the purposes of this article, there is a difference between literacy difficulties and dyslexia. Dyslexia is a specific learning difference which requires on-going support. If you suspect that a child has dyslexia, you can read our article on supporting children with dyslexia here.


Some literacy difficulties may be a result of disrupted learning, and a short intensive period of input may provide the boost that is needed to get the pupil back on track. This will be particularly true of pupils who have moved schools or ability groups. In this instance, the pupil’s progress should be closely monitored in order to inform next steps and ensure intervention is having a positive impact.

Memory Aids

If a pupil is struggling with a single aspect of literacy, such as spelling, you may wish to use memory aids such as pictures or mnemonics to help them stick. Again, this will require a follow-up to ensure the aids are working long-term.

Alternative Access

Find alternative ways of helping a child access literature, such as audiobooks or online resources. This can be especially helpful for pupils who are struggling with their language development. Ensuring that a pupil can explore complex vocabulary verbally, and explicitly teaching new topic-based words and concepts will help the pupil navigate any disadvantages.


Pupils who struggle with literacy have more than likely had a day filled with challenges beyond that of most of their peers, and as a result this has required more effort and been more tiring. The struggling pupil should not be given extra homework to catch up. Instead, communicate regularly with parents, and adjust homework suitably, bearing in mind the purpose of the task while modifying the form to suit the pupil.

Moving on up

If you’ve mastered the steps above, here are two things you can do to take your teaching career to the next level: 

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