Around five percent of Czech school-goers are diagnosed with dyslexia. Although it has been proven that there is no direct link between dyslexia and IQ dyslexic children are often labeled slow and problematic, hampering them from making full use of their potential. A new learning aid just out aims to change that.
Children who are in any way different generally suffer for it in the classroom. It took years for the Czech education system to accept left-handers for what they were and not force them to write with their right hand. Now, teachers are being made to recognize that a dyslexic child can be as intelligent –or more intelligent – than a child without learning disabilities. Last week a young Czech artist – herself a dyslexia sufferer – presented the public with an audio-visual primer she produced in cooperation with experts from Charles University. Alena Kupčíkova explains what the new learning technique is based on.
“Children suffering from dyslexia tend to use the right hemisphere of the brain more than the left which influences their perception of things. They tend to think in pictures, which makes it hard for them to work with letters and written words. So our learning aid is based on using pictures to help them recognize letters in what appears to be a foreign and confusing environment. But it is possible that our primer will help all children learn to read because our first perception of new things tends to be visual.”
Alena Kupčíkova spent six years working with pre-school children and first graders in order to get as much information as possible for the primer. In the learning process she devised letters which are associated with shapes children see around them, with sounds and colours. Children are encouraged to play with the shapes of letters and look for them in a given environment. You have pictures in motion on screen which children have to spot or move elsewhere – which strengthens concentration and emulates the movement of one’s eyes in reading a text. The combination of work with colour, sound, shape and movement has produced excellent results and dyslexia experts in other countries have shown interest in the idea.
“The first to contact were experts from Slovakia –who want a Slovak version of what we are offering Czech children, and because my work is known abroad other countries have expressed interest as well. We are cooperating with education specialists in Great Britain, Canada, France and Germany to produce different language versions. It is a lot of work but now that the Czech version is done we hope to move on and have the English and German versions ready by the end of the year.”
Alena Kupčíkova is currently heading a campaign to increase awareness of dyslexia and will be travelling around the country to present her learning aid to parents of dyslexic children. At her instigation the Czech Republic marked September 9th as dyslexia day.