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Things You Can Do (That Really Help) When Teaching Children With Learning Difficulties

Written by Katlin Stack
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When a child with learning difficulties is placed in a classroom, a teacher will oftentimes start to brainstorm ways to create a successful classroom for the student. They will start to think about things that they can do for the child to help tackle these learning difficulties and provide an excellent school year. Here are a few of the things that will make a big difference.

1. Include More Special Needs In The Classroom

It is important not only for the teacher, but also for the other children in the room to understand learning difficulties. An excellent way to do this is to use puppets with special needs and include topical books in the regular class bookshelves. This will help the children in the class to better understand the difficulties the student with the learning difficulties may be having, and help to include the child more often. Children have an amazing ability to display empathy and understanding for others, so this will be an excellent idea for any classroom!

2. Use Reinforcers

A training class once mentioned that without reinforcements, you have nothing. While this training was specifically for students on the Autism spectrum, it’s a true statement for any child with a learning disability. Children with a learning disability will oftentimes try to avoid school work because they don’t understand it or don’t feel that they can’t complete it, which is completely understandable. Unfortunately though, sometimes the avoidance occurs and the student begins acting out behaviorally or refusing to do the work. This can disrupt a classroom easily.

If a teacher is prepared with a reinforcer, something that the student is willing to work for, then the teacher will have a much easier time getting the student to complete the work. A reinforcer can be something as simple as reading a favorite book or a few minutes of computer time, and it can make a very big difference in the child’s day!

3. Add That Extra Bit Of Praise

When a student has a learning difficulty, it can make a school day very challenging. Imagine being at work and not being able to keep up with all of your co-workers, knowing that you were disappointing your supervisor. It would feel awful and extremely stressful. So, it is important for teachers to remember that every accomplishment that a student with a learning difficulty makes, no matter how small it may seem, should be praised. Verbal praise, or even non-verbal with a simple pat on the shoulder, can help make the student feel successful. That extra bit of praise will go such a long way in making the student feel better and more like his peers, along with being very encouraging for the next time!

4. Allow For Sensory Needs

People sometimes think that Autism is the only learning difficulty that benefits from sensory needs. But truthfully, many students with learning difficulties benefit greatly when allowed time to fulfill their sensory needs. When something becomes overwhelming or stressful in the classroom, it is helpful to have either a place in the classroom or a sensory area in the school building where the student may be excused to relax themselves by using sensory input. It can be anything from soft pillows, swings (if the school allows), rice shakers, or anything that the student is in need of. This gives the student time to calm down and prepare to return to the classroom.

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5. Use Visual Schedules

Using visual schedules in the classroom can help make a child’s day run so much smoother. A student with learning difficulties often likes to know what is coming next so that they can be prepared for the next lesson or special class. By hanging a daily schedule in the room or by making an individual schedule for the student that is either posted to the desk or accessible to the student, it will help keep the student organized and aware of what will happen next.

Learning difficulties can present challenges for a classroom, but nothing that is impossible for a teacher to overcome. The most important thing to do is to get to know and understand the student so you will know what will help the student the most. These extra supports for a student can help to create an amazing and successful school year!

Featured photo credit: US Department of Education via flickr.com

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