Effective Education for Your Learning Disabled Child
- 2007 2 Feb
WHAT DOES YOUR CHILD NEED IN A CURRICULUM?
Most children fare better when several senses can be used at once. This may or may not be true for certain children with learning disabilities. Sometimes the weak links (areas with disabilities) overpower the strengths. But sometimes the strengths are strong enough to overcome the weaknesses. Since you always want to teach to the strengths, it is time to analyze your special childs curriculum needs.
· If not, what seems to hold his attention the longest?
· Visual learners tend to work well with shorter workbook pages. Children with visual- processing problems do better with explanations accompanied by demonstrations with manipulatives, even if you need to explain the manipulative step by step.
· Auditory learners thrive on tapes, explanations, and explaining things themselvesbetter known as chattering. Children with auditory- processing problems require the oppositeshort, simple, and to-the-point explanations. The longer the explanation, the more potential for problems. Manipulatives and examples only work if they make sense without much explanation.
· Computers: Does he like working (not playing) on your computer? Can he touch type/keyboard? Computers stimulate all senses, often providing the best opportunity for many LDs to absorb new knowledge. Unlike people, computer software is great because it is willing to do the same task thousands of times without a complaint. An appropriate choice in software can save your sanity.
· Assignments: Is he easily frustrated or overwhelmed by assignments? Does a full page of work bring on tears? Do you shorten assignments to alleviate this? Can he follow an assignment sheet (a checklist or other organizer method), or does he need you to keep him on track (e.g., Youve finished math. Now do spelling.)?
· Preferences: If he could choose a curriculum format, what would it be? Are workbooks his favorite? (He likes short assignments and can make an A+.) Does he avoid writing or coloring at all costs? (He is resistant to paper/pencils and has poor motor control.) Does he like doing crafts and activities, or does he view them as a time waster? (Some children prefer to finish their work quickly, so they can do what they want.) Does he prefer doing everything with you watching over his shoulder, or does he have the abilities and stick-to-itiveness to do the task on his own (self-motivated)? Pay special attention to his interests and where he is successful.
· Skills: What skills has he learned that can be a foundation for others he needs to learn? Does he just need more practice/drill work to be successful? (Try to find a computer program that will do it. You have laundry to do.) Can he read well enough to be independent, or does he still need you to explain the directions? Is he a strong reader but poor in his written work? Does he pass spelling tests, only to miss the same words in his everyday work? Can the assignment be simplified into an oral exercise rather than always written?
· Educational Expectations: What are realistic expectations for him? Is an apprenticeship more appropriate than college? If so, what areas of interest would he choose (auto mechanics, computers, veterinarian assistant, etc.)? What will he need to know to be the adult he is capable of becoming? Are his disabilities severe enough to limit his achievements? If you are looking at severe disabilities, some major curriculum adjustments will be necessary. It isnt important for a child to know the difference between a noun and a verb if he will only learn to read on a second-grade level. I am not saying, Dont challenge; I am saying, Dont frustrate. Dream achievable dreams for his successand be willing to change them as he reaches (or misses) milestones.
Mrs. Letz Farmer, wife and homeschooling mother (since 1989), holds her undergraduate degree in special education and mental retardation. With graduate work and experience in learning disabilities, gifted and talented, emotional disturbance, and deafness, Letz spent 7 years as a teacher and curriculum developer in a public school K-8 resource room. She is the owner of Mastery Publications, www.masterypublications.com.