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HELPING STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES SUCCEED IN SCHOOLS

Teachers help students learn how to use their strengths to overcome their challenges. This is not an easy task. Learning disabilities can be different from student to student, which is why the Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with learning disabilities can vary from student to student.

when a student with learning disabilities enters the classroom, this becomes even more important as a student’s disabilities will influence the types of support that they will need in order to be successful in their academic studies. While every individual student will have their own unique learning styles, here are a few of the best ways to help every student with a disability to succeed in school.

Secondary-school teachers and counselors now recommend that students with learning disabilities who are likely to be college-bound begin to seek information on different colleges early in their secondary schooling. In fact, some advocate that one of the transition goals on the IEP be that students be able to research various colleges’ entrance requirements, curricula, and learning disabilities services (Blaylock & Patton, 1996).

One issue students need to address when considering colleges is whether they should attend a two-year or a four-year institution. This decision depends on several factors. Many students value two-year colleges because they more often “have open admissions policies; smaller class ratios; comparatively low tuition fees; academic and personal counseling; and a wide range of vocational, remedial, and developmental courses” (Brinckerhoff, 1996, p. 127). Some students, especially those whose disabilities are less severe, are able to handle the less structured setting of a four-year college.

Helping students with a learning disability to succeed in school requires a well-rounded approach that includes a supportive network of people that is made up of educators, school administrators, therapists, and parents. When each of these people makes it their goal to implement positive supports in their classrooms, schools, and homes, then students with a learning disability will develop the skills that they need to overcome their challenges and experience academic success.

Demands placed on students differ from high school to college, but colleges require a great deal more student independence than secondary school. For example, there is considerably less classroom instruction in college, the implication being that students will spend more time outside of class reading and studying on their own. Many students have problems adjusting to the decreased structure in college. Students with learning disabilities may have an even more difficult time because they are prone to have problems in independence and their high school programs may have been even more structured than those of most students (Brinckerhoff et al., 1992).

Set Long-Term Goals First
How long should a long-term goal be? This is debatable. A single school year works well. Personally, I do not set goals for periods of time longer than a year. I can understand wanting to help students set goals to graduate high school or go to college. However, unless the student is a senior in high school, I consider these to be beyond long-term goals. I would call them life goals.

Use Long-Term Goals to Set Short-Term Goals
Set short-term goals by breaking long-term goals into smaller pieces. For example, a student may have a long-term goal to write a paragraph with four to five complete sentences using correct grammar. This could be divided into three short-term goals. First, the student will learn and apply punctuation. Second, the student will construct complete sentences with a subject and a predicate. Last, the student will learn to construct a paragraph by first writing a topic sentence and then adding detail sentences. The student will reach the long-term goal by reaching all of the short-term goals.

Participate in early screening

Early identification of a potential learning disability is vital to a child’s long-term outlook. In order to begin to implement supportive measures early on, schools should begin screening for disabilities during early childhood and every time a new student enters their school. This way, students will begin to receive help before they miss out on important concepts such as reading.

Utilize technological resources

Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever before to support a student with disabilities in the classroom. For example, voice-to-text devices can enable a student who has difficulty writing to be able to enter information into the computer. Additionally, videos, audio and other forms of media can enable teachers to present new information in a variety of ways.

Often, a student with learning disabilities will discover that their support network dissolves upon graduation. However, the transfer to university can be very challenging for a student with learning disabilities. Because the ultimate goal for many students is to continue their education in college, more support needs to be given in order to help a student with a learning disability to develop independent study skills to help them through higher education.

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