Help at School

Successful management of students with learning difference requires a collaborative approach between educator, student and the parent.  An Individual Education Plan (IEP) should be used to coordinate recommended behavioral support and learning strategies across the school environment and regular communications between teacher(s) and home relating to class work and social/emotional behavior should be established.


What is an Individual Educational Plan (IEP)?


Many schools now use these to coordinate delivery of learning supports, services or accommodations within the classroom.  The IEP describes the nature of a child’s learning difference, the goals for the student and makes recommendations for classroom differentiation, any special support needed and testing accommodations.   Ideally the plans are developed in collaboration with parents, the student and if appropriate, a student’s councilor or phychologist.  The services and goals outlined in an IEP can be provided in the regular classroom.  


What are accommodations?


Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow children with learning differences to complete the same assignments as other students.  Accommodations do not give students an unfair advantage or change test measures; they make it possible for students with learning differences to show what they know without being impeded by their disability.   For an example list of accommodations see “Accommodations for Students with LD”  at LDonline.

What classroom techniques work?


There are generally a few “do’s and don’ts” when working with children who have learning differences.


Position kids with learning differences at the front of the room. Seat them nearest the blackboard or close to where the teacher gives instruction.


Scaffolding and organization:  consistency, structure, organization and time management are frequent areas of weakness;  find ways to consistently help students break down assignments plan homework, , and organize their materials.


Minimize options for distraction: try to avoid placing children with AD/HD at tables with multiple children. If possible provide a quiet study area, free from distraction, when seat work is required.


Sustain attention:  try to work within the child's attention span, ask questions or keep changing the type of work.  See “Checklists for Teachers” at  for with tips for getting, focusing and maintaining a student’s attention,


Know their preferred learning style:  many of these children are VISUAL learners. Try making things more visual or tactile and they may grasp them better. Instead of memorizing words, ask them to "make a movie in their head and play it back".


Encourage creativity; these child are often extremely creative. Try to encourage artistic (or musical) abilities.

For a good overview of classroom differentiation for specific learning needs see “Classroom accommodations to Help Students with Learning and Attention Issues” at  Understood


Don’t skip recess


Vigorous exercise is good for all kids but it’s particularly important for children with learning differences.  Research continues to reveal the advantages for exercise in helping to control AD/HD symptoms, boost memory, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Physical activity and AD/HD – Edward Hollowell, MD on the importance of exercise and it’s impact on the brain


Best types of exercise for kids – Harvard Professor John Ratey, MD Psychiatrist, shares advice on what types of exercise are the best for a child's health and for improving a child's brain function and development


Dear Teacher Video