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A Learning Environment

Maximize Learning

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People often use the words reading disability and dyslexia when they are referring to the same disorder. The disabilitities are close, and key to reading success are the following strategies. Setting up a learning environment that maximizes learning for students with learning difficulties is every bit as essential as intervening appropriately and at the appropriate times. ALWAYS remember that children with learning difficulties rarely learn in the traditional manner. Vary your strategies until you find out what works, persistence will pay off. In the front of your mind, remind yourself that having learning difficulties is like trying to learn a completely foreign language. Ignore and avoid the labels - your main focus is on effective interventions.

Top Tips For Helping Students with Learning Difficulties

  1. Find out about the student's learning style, thus understanding his/her strengths. Which of the 7 intelligences (verbal/linguistic, musical, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal) does he/she demonstrate a strength in?
  2. Have you provided an area that is free of distractions? A study carrell or an area that isn't in a direct line of traffic? Is there a divider you can use to set up a quiet work area? These students are often distracted and shouldn't be placed near classroom pets, windows or pathways to the sink, pencil sharpener, doors etc.
  3. Is your student hyper? If so, remember that these students have great difficulty sitting still. Provide opportunities for a 3 minute stretch or a quick 5 minute by your desk workout.
  4. Sometimes these students benefit from soft music playing as they work, do you have a set of headphones and a player? If so, try some soft music while the child is engaged in seatwork.
  5. Avoid abstract concepts. Use concrete manipulatives on a regular basis, once the student fully understands, you can move to the abstract. Whenever possible, keep learning focused on the child's interests.
  6. Children with learning difficulties rarely work well in large groups. You will need to find alternatives to large group instruction whenever possible.
  7. Ask yourself if there's an assistive technology to help this student. There are lots of text readers and voice activated word processors to help children with learning difficulties. Offer calculators, spell checkers and grammar checkers whenever you can.
  8. Avoid drill and repetition, students need to be motivated and excited about learning, the quickest way to turn them off is through drill and repetition. Use games for this type of learning. Think of ways to keep learning project based, this is much more motivating for the learning disabled child.
  9. Last but not least - avoid telling the student to try harder. Although it may not seem so, the child is often trying his/her hardest.

When the right methods are employed, the child will be successful. Remember, small steps are better than no steps!

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