Supporting Students Who Experience Difficulty With Learning
If my child has difficulty learning what can I do?
The first response is to talk to the teacher about your concerns. What have you noticed about his/her literacy skills and numeracy skills? Are there other areas that are causing you to worry such as short term memory, organisation skills, following instructions poorly, or behavioural issues? These are all areas worth noting before you talk to the teacher.
The next step is to develop, with the teacher a process for assisting your child. You may find that the teacher will have some actions already in place which you can support. You may want to take the step of discussing matters with the school psychologist and the principal. You may jointly decide that a psychological assessment process may be required which will investigate capacity across arrange of areas.
How does the classroom teacher help my child who has learning difficulties?
All classes have students who have a range of learning levels and abilities. The teacher deliberately groups students to assist them in their learning in Literacy and Numeracy. The teacher then focuses the delivery of skills relevant to the group that he/she may be working with. During this time the teacher will also work one on one with students to assist. Groups are structured either at ability level or to teach a particular concept that some students have not yet mastered. This can be a very fluid process. Other class members work on activities that reinforce previous learning or enable them to use particular skills. Where necessary a teacher will set out an IEP for a student.
What is an IEP (Individual Education Plan)?
An IEP is a plan drawn up by the teacher to match learning content to the needs of the individual student. The teacher writes up a plan that
specifically outlines the needs of the students and then some key accommodations and strategies to assist with learning. The teacher targets specific skills and understanding so the student can progress. Home support may be needed to provide additional reinforcement for the student to embed the new skill or understanding. Teachers should ensure that parents have read this plan.
What adjustments or accommodations does a teacher make in the classroom?
Accommodations can include such processes as where a child sits or who they sit with. There may be visual cues about the room that enable the students to know what is happening next. The teacher may stand beside them when they talk, read information out loud, repeat an instruction or may ensure stationery items are at the ready. There are many small but important ways that a teacher can a make adjustments to class routines that assist a student.
What support does the teacher get to assist students?
Each year we diligently keep records of individual student progress and pass the information onto the next teacher. Teachers discuss students “flagged” as needing in class assistance and their IEPs are handed over. The school has a Student At Educational Risk Co-ordinator who meets with teachers to assist them with the development of the learning program. The teacher also gets support through a range professional support and learning opportunities. In some instances the school funds an education assistant to provide assistance.
What are the expectations placed on students with a learning difficulty?
Often a student with a learning difficulty is intelligent and capable in other areas. We expect the student to try hard and use their other talents to assist them to learn in their area of difficulty.