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Teaching Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities

Puja Lalwani May 10, 2019
Learning disabilities refer to problems in acquiring, understanding, storing, and organizing information. The effects of these are usually seen in the form academic difficulties. Here, we discuss methods of teaching students with learning difficulties so as to ease the process for them.
Children with learning disabilities are those who are unable to learn information the way other students do. The types of learning disabilities may vary from person to person. Some kids find it difficult writing, while others may have trouble reading clearly. In some cases, children with learning disabilities cannot focus on any one activity for long.
These students are not unintelligent in any way, and their IQ scores are never considered as parameters to judge how receptive they are or may be, in the classroom. These are students who may just get confused by excess information, or may not be able to connect bits of information to make a whole.
For instance, the application of lessons learned in different situations is difficult for students with learning disabilities. As such, all they need are some specific teaching methods so that they can be on par with the rest of the class. These teaching strategies for students with learning disabilities have been discussed here.

Effective Strategies to Teach Students with Learning Disabilities

As a teacher of students with learning disabilities, you should pay greater attention to their needs and focus on whether or not they are actually absorbing the information that has been disseminated in the classroom. You may also have to develop alternative methods of teaching so that they can catch up with what is being taught in class.
Finally, it is your job to ensure that students with learning disabilities do not feel 'different' from the other students, or feel that they are not being given a fair chance in the classroom. Given here are some tips and ideas that will help you take these measures. Take a look.
✔ Assess the level of the learning disability of the student and then implement any of the following methods. A student may not be as weak as you perceive her/him to be. Similarly, a student may not be able to learn as quickly as you would expect her/him to with the use of appropriate methods.
✔ All instructions in the classroom should be provided in a written and oral format. Assignments should be written on the board for the students to copy. While this may be good for students who have trouble writing quickly, for students who have trouble reading, you may spell out the assignment, but at a slow pace so that they may copy it down correctly.
Moreover, if there are any doubts regarding these assignments, they may be clarified in the classroom itself. Ensure that students know when the assignments are due so that they start working on them accordingly.
✔ The assignments provided to such children should ideally be less challenging than those given to the other students in the classroom. Such students need time to cope up, and it is only by accommodating their needs that their learning capacity can be increased.
✔ The process of instruction should be broken down into smaller parts for better understanding. Processing smaller bits of information is easier than large chunks for students with learning disabilities.
The use of visual (diagrams, graphs, pictures, and models), audio (tape recordings), and other aids that will help the process of instruction should be utilized to make comprehension and retention of information simpler. For instance, some students with learning disabilities may have trouble with mathematics.
In such a case, it is important that you utilize simpler methods of teaching them such as the use of the abacus, the use of other objects that teach them addition, subtraction, and other such calculations.
✔ Always ask students for feedback so that you can analyze whether or not they have truly understood what has been taught to them. For instance, while teaching them the usage of verbs, ask them to construct a simple sentence with these verbs. Ensure that you ask them how this information may be applied in different areas of life, of course, in a simple way.
✔ Experts also suggest allowing students to tape-record information so that they may then try and process it at their own pace later. Again this is good idea for the troubled reader. However, this method may or may not be effective for all students with learning disabilities, as you may not be present to dispel any doubts they may have.
This factor of course, depends on the kind and level of learning disability a student may be suffering from.
✔ Allow students to use resources that will help them check spelling and correct grammar and punctuation such as online word processors. This will help reduce the rate of errors that may occur in the process of writing.
In this method, you still have to ensure whether the student has understood her/his mistake and does not completely rely on a spell check to correct errors. If you do not have access to such resources, you yourself may assist the student in proofreading her/his assignment.
✔ Prepare study guides in an organized manner and give it to students at least 5-6 weeks before the examinations begin. Ideally, the examination paper that has been set for such students should be a little easier than those for other students so that they are not overwhelmed by the questions they are supposed to answer.
For instance, multiple choice questions may be difficult for such students to process and they should therefore be asked direct questions that preferably have short, direct answers. This could be a pattern to begin with and as you notice an improvement in the student's performance, you may slowly increase the complexity of questions asked.
✔ Students with learning disabilities are likely to get frustrated if they are unable to cope up with the rest of the class. In such a case, it is imperative that you be supportive of the effort they are putting into learning. Also involve parents in the learning and teaching process for maximum benefit of the student.
✔ Avoid picking out such students in the class as this will only add to their stress and frustration and weaken their performance. Avoid judging their performance based on their IQ scores.
These are students who may have above average intelligence too. Just because they cannot comprehend certain types of information or the methods by which it is provided, does not mean they are unintelligent in any way.
Focusing on the ability of every student in class is the job of a teacher. In some cases, a learning disability may not yet have been diagnosed, and the child may simply have been perceived as weak in studies. However, noticing a pattern and then reporting it to parents is important.
It is also a good idea to take the assistance of an educational consultant or a specialist who can ease the process of teaching students with learning disabilities. This will make a huge difference to their overall performance and their self-confidence.