The best exercise books for children with learning difficulties

Exercise books have been a staple of classrooms across the world for most of the century, and over all that time, the vast majority of them have been plain exercise books. However, in the last few decades, the advances in printing technology means that it’s now possible to create personalised exercise books tailored to much more specific parameters. That naturally gives rise to the now-ubiquitous question for teachers and educational professionals, namely: should I order plain or personalised exercise books for my school?

The best exercise books for children with learning difficulties

It's estimated that between 4% to 5% of the population live with an SLD (specific learning difficulty), and they've been shown to affect boys and girls equally frequently. Even a relatively mild learning difficulty can make life significantly harder for a child at school in a number of ways, some of which are - sadly - often underestimated. First off to consider is the obvious impact it has on their learning from moment to moment, but it's also important to bear in mind how it can affect their sense of self worth compared to their peers, and therefore their mood and motivation levels in the classroom - and how teachers and other educational staff can help.

One of the most effective ways to support children with learning difficulties in the classroom is to make sure that they have all the equipment they need to tackle their learning objectives. School exercise books are a prime example - so here are our top suggestions for the best exercise books for learning difficulties.

Tinted exercise books for dyslexia

Dyslexia is a particularly prevalent consideration for teachers, as it's one of the most common learning difficulties in the UK. According to government statistics, around 10% of the UK's population has dyslexia, so you have a reasonable chance of teaching a dyslexic child in your own classroom. It's therefore wise to keep at least some tinted exercise books on hand.

We've already published a post that goes into more detail about the difference between plain and printed exercise books. In case you need a quick recap though, tinted exercise books are useful because they minimise the 'visual stress' that many dyslexic people must deal with when using exercise books.

In short, white paper and backgrounds can cause an intense 'glare' for those with scotopic sensitivity (i.e. anyone liable to visual stress), which can affect their concentration and writing ability. Tinted exercise books use shaded matt paper, which doesn't produce the same effect, and gives dyslexic students more mental energy and motivation to concentrate.


School exercise books for dysgraphia

In a nutshell, dysgraphia is a condition that can cause those affected by it to struggle with the presentation, legibility or spelling of their work. Often, it manifests in a lack of co-ordination and fine motor skills.

Many children with dysgraphia also have dyslexia as well. Both conditions are similar in that they don't reflect on an individual's general intelligence, and though there is no cure for either, they can both be managed.

Dyslexia and dysgraphia can affect individual children to varying degrees, so there are a number of different approaches you can experiment with. Exercise books with alternate tinted lines and differentiated margins can help your pupils to more accurately perceive spaces. You can also give them lined exercise books with wider margins and larger spacing between the lines, so that they've got more room to make mistakes as they work to improve the presentation of their writing. Sometimes even writing with graph paper can help, as it can again help children keep their writing within the lines, increasing their confidence as they sharpen their skills.

Personalised exercise books can be exceptionally helpful here, as the personalisation process may allow you to combine two or more solutions for dyslexic / dysgraphic children.

If the student continues to struggle with dysgraphia, it might be worth showing them how to use a computer or tablet. This can again help to improve their confidence as it takes care of some of the most difficult elements out of writing (such as spacing and presentation), allowing them to concentrate on spelling and parsing until they're ready to move on.

Lined exercise books with blank spaces

While our other suggestions so far have been geared towards specific learning difficulties, our recommendation here is a more general one that will be useful for almost any child dealing with any kind of learning difficulty or condition. As well as dysgraphia, there are also a range of further conditions that can make written communication exceptionally challenging, so when students are struggling to express themselves, it can be helpful to have an alternate way to do so.

That's where these particular exercise books come in. By including blank spaces alongside the lines, children can sketch out their ideas when they're having trouble putting them into words. That can help give teachers and other education professionals a useful reference, fostering a mutual understanding between teacher and student so that the latter can be gently guided towards the correct phrase or answer.

These are just a few of our suggestions, of course. If you've taken a look through our express exercise books, you might already have a few more of your own! Alternatively, if you can't find what you're looking for, you can always use our personalised exercise books to create it for yourself.

And if you ever need any help or you've got questions that need answering, that's what we're here for.  With more than 40 years of experience behind us, we're top of the class when it comes to producing resources and learning solutions for schools, so you can count on us to provide answers in as much or as little detail as you need. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 686 500!

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