The importance of the teacher in helping a child identify and overcome a learning disability can’t be overstated. An educated and understanding teacher can ease many of the hurdles a child with a learning disability experiences in the classroom. A teacher is often the first person to identify a learning disability in a child and is often called upon to help find resources and a learning plan to help the child succeed.
Having a learning disability is no indicator of intelligence. Children with learning disabilities often have average or above average intelligence, but their ability does not translate into certain aspects of their work. The Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba encourages teachers to help students with learning disabilities by researching and understanding the disability and providing instruction and accommodations to address the student’s needs.
For example, depending on the child, he or she may have trouble processing certain types of written or verbal instructions. As a teacher, you can help by breaking tasks into small steps and giving direction in the way most accessible to the child. If possible, also use pictures to illustrate the lesson. A student with a learning disability may need more time to process problems than other students. If possible, allow the student more time to finish a project or a test and provide him or her with well-designed, and intentional practice lessons to do at home. Some students will have trouble writing their own notes. Letting them borrow notes from a classmate, or letting them use a computer that will correct spelling and grammar can go a long way in helping them learn. Some students may wish to use a recording device during class so they can listen back to your instructions, or they may prefer to listen to an audio textbook instead of reading it themselves. One of the keys to success is to be flexible.
Another thing an educator can do is to teach organizational, study and learning skills. This will help all students but will be particularly helpful to the student with a learning disability. Helping the student adopt the proper strategies for learning will have a huge impact on him or her, both in your class, and throughout his or her life.
We provide support and resources to teachers across Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba, giving them what they need to better handle learning disabilities in the classroom. We also offer children’s literacy tutoring to provide an option for extra help outside of class time. Some children may need more help than others and our Arrowsmith Program is an option for children that have cognitive deficits that are preventing them from benefiting from, utilizing, and building their areas of strength. These children, while working hard, continue to fall further and further behind. Arrowsmith is an intense cognition-building program that is offered half time in collaboration with school or full time in collaboration with home schooling. To find out more, please contact us at (204) 774-1821.