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Giving Back to Students

Find out how PARENTS and TEACHERS can GIVE back* to a student (of any age) experiencing academic challenges*

At any age, learning new concepts can be challenging. This is especially true when one faces challenges like learning disabilities (i.e. dyslexia, ADHD, processing deficits). I want to talk about how we as teachers and parents/guardians can give back to our students and life-long learners facing these challenges.

1. INVEST TIME observe the student with love and the intent to learn more.

Simply spending time with the student to understand their learning process and the processes that may be hindering them can not only help you understand the problem and devise solutions, but it can also help the student to feel supported. Feeling supported can bolster a student’s confidence and willingness to try new methods of learning when other ones have not worked.

2. CHECK IN with the child’s parents and previous year’s teachers to learn more.

Learning more about their previous instruction, support from home, and other variables is very helpful when devising a plan for the future. This can also give great insight into what has already been tried and what has not.

3. VARY the learning activities (schoolwork and homework).

This is a quick way to find out if a different method or a certain accommodation would lead to more independent and accurate work completion!

4. LISTEN to the child read out loud everyday.

Listening to the child read aloud will ensure decoding, fluency, and comprehension are progressing. This can also help to identify areas of literacy that need additional support. This also promotes proper speech and language development!

5. REVIEW the child’s spelling and writing everyday.

Reviewing the student’s writing to ensure encoding, syntax, mechanics, and grammar are progressing is equally as important as the prior. This will also help to identify areas of need in literacy skills.

6. ENSURE the child has a visual task list of what s/he is expected to complete, in what order, and in what time frame.

Providing structure in this way is essential to the developing mind. Setting up clear and concise expectations will also serve as a motivator to proceed without procrastination on the student’s part.

7. ASK the child to repeat back directions to you.

The theme here is providing support. Asking the child to repeat instructions back to you ensures that they heard the instructions, understood them, and can remember them clearly. This leaves no room for error moving forward in the process of learning.

8. GIVE your time with more frequent check-ins with this student.

These check-ins would preferably be 1:1 and in smaller groups to ensure that those challenges begin to fade slowly but surely over time. 1:1 time gives the feeling of true support and caring which, again, can bolster the student’s confidence in feeling that they can ask for help if needed.

9. GIVE yourself and the student patience to develop the skills you are seeking for them to learn.

Patience is a virtue for a reason. For developing children who are already absorbing so much information, learning new ways to learn can be difficult. Give them the time to learn in the time/space/environment that benefits them the most. As Anna Gillingham once said, “Go as fast as you can, but as slow as you must.”

*Disclaimer that every student and situation is unique to them and these ‘GIVING TIPS’ are generalized and hopefully helpful for most! Please keep in mind that a student’s challenges can be extreme (from silently-under-the-radar or in-your face) and everything in between!

**If the work is not getting completed independently and accurately, that is a red flag.

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