Help Students with Learning Difficulties Stay on Task with These 6 Proven Strategies
Learning disabilities can derail children from realizing their potential. The battle to improve outcomes for them is waged on multiple fronts, starting with parents, continuing through therapists and resting on the shoulders of classroom educators in the school system.
When children with learning disabilities aren’t given the proper support, they can rapidly fall behind. Unfinished homework may prevent them from understanding what’s going on. If this continues for too long, it may not be possible for them to catch up.
A lack of organization stemming from distractions can present challenges for parents, educators and children struggling with learning. Teachers can do much to help students with learning difficulties stay on task with these 6 proven strategies.
- Classroom organization
Teachers can help learning disabled students by creating physical reminders for them. Creating a “to-do” folder and a tray for completed homework assists them by providing tangible cues about their progress and what they need to get done.
Organizing classroom storage and establishing zones in the classroom dedicated to specific work helps your student find what they need and settle down to the task at hand.
You might want to set up a math station or a reading corner (or both). Materials used in the classroom can be arranged by subject and stored in clearly marked bins or totes.
Color-coding is incredibly helpful for kids with learning challenges, assisting them by providing an organizational framework.
Organize by subject and then, task. Textbooks and other materials should be included in your color system, with a different color for each subject you teach.
Help your students know where they are in terms of assignments to be completed by coding future tasks green (plenty of time), yellow (deadline approaching) or red (overdue). These visual cues are like touchstones for children who have difficulty organizing their work.
- Check lists
Students with learning disabilities often have difficulty remembering what’s on their plates. Some children even forget to bring completed assignments with them to school.
You can help, again, by providing a framework which serves to organize the workload and provide visual cues for student action. This can take the form of checklists organized by day and week. Apply your checklist to the entire class, so students can see where they are in relation to other students and in relation to their personal deliverables.
Educators check off tasks as they’re completed, giving all their students the pleasure of seeing what they’ve accomplished.
- Consistent routine
If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right. Structure is very important to students with learning disabilities, as they often have problems focusing on what they’re trying to accomplish or discern the amount of time required by each task.
Having a consistent routine in place helps. Schedule your classroom activities in blocks with a fixed completion time for every task or activity assigned. Make sure you post your schedule in a visible location.
Mark the block as completed with a sign like a large arrow, indicating that the next block is about to begin. Once students become accustomed to this way of doing things, they’ll better understand that time allotted is limited and apply themselves more readily.
- Rewards for a job well done
Good work and good behavior are worthy of rewards. Rewards can be anything from a good grade to a pat on the back.
You may believe that rewards for meeting foundational expectations are not necessary, but they send a strong message. They reinforce the importance of modelling good behavior and completing tasks on time. Children need to feel good about their performance as much as adults do. Rewarding them for a job well done reinforces the good habits you’re instilling in your students.
- Connect with parents
Parents are fountains of knowledge about your students. They’re the people who spend the most time with them.
Ensure you’re checking in with them regularly to apprise them of their children’s progress, by phone or email. When assigning homework, be prepared to write notes to parents letting them know what kinds of assignments are being done by their children and letting them know where kids are getting stuck.
Parents are powerful allies when you bring them to the project of their children’s education. Don’t neglect their involvement. Foster it.
No one’s more creative than teachers and every classroom is different. Experiment with these strategies to discover what works best with your students.
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