Communication is key when teaching students with LD
Monday, February 29, 2016
For parents of children with ADHD, every task throughout the day can be a struggle — from getting up in the morning and making it to school on time to getting homework done and going to bed at night.
These struggles are not isolated to kids with ADHD; all parents have one issue or another with their children. But, for a child with ADHD, the small fits can quickly turn into something big — especially when you break a structured routine.
All of these concerns carry through the school day, which has an effect on educators. That's why communicating with parents and understanding the student's home environment are key to helping these children achieve success in the classroom.
Before my son was diagnosed with ADHD, a part of me always knew he was. But how do you know if it's ADHD or him just being a boy? Only time would tell, and I had to be open-minded to the possibility.
In preschool, he hated taking naps, was constantly fidgeting and had difficulty learning his letters. His teacher was very understanding. During nap time, she would let him lay quietly, knowing it wasn't worth the fight to force him go to sleep. She would even take extra time to make sure he was learning what he needed to know before entering kindergarten through one-on-one tutoring while the other kids were off playing.
It wasn't until first grade that my son was officially diagnosed with ADHD. With the advice of his teacher and pediatrician, we saw a psychiatrist. After waiting for two months, we had our first appointment. The psychiatrist advised me to get him on a 504 plan. At the time, I didn't even know what a 504 plan was.
"Section 504 is federal civil rights law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It provides protection against discrimination for individuals with disabilities," according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
I made an appointment with the school, turned in the paperwork and sat down with the vice principal, school counselor and my son's teacher to discuss modifications he would need in school. The entire process was overwhelming, and it was only with the help from these individuals that I could see my son was getting the help he needed.
A structured routine is something that is necessary in our house and at school. The school has done an amazing job of matching my son with a teacher who understands his needs and helps him succeed. He is making all A's and B's in his classes.
His conduct grade does fluctuate, but I don't expect it to be perfect. I know he is going to have his good days and bad. For example, recently, he stood up in the middle of class and screamed, "I'm so angry!" He was overly frustrated with his school work and needed to let the whole class know. I'm proud of my child for not holding in his feelings, and thankful for the teacher who understood his frustration and didn't call him out in front of the whole class.
Though the signs may be clear, it can be difficult for parents to recognize a learning disability or ADHD in their children. For educators who suspect they have a student affected by a learning disability, here are some tips for helping both students and parents adjust:
- Schedule a parent-teacher conference — let the parents know their child's struggles.
- Clearly outline the classroom expectations and consequences to both the parent and student.
- Determine what helps the child focus, such as walking out of the classroom for a break, and reinforce this behavior.
- Create a modified behavior charts specific to the child's needs.
- Establish regular, open communication with the parent.
- Remember, every child is different so the course of accommodations will be different for each child.
If educators are aware of the signs of learning disabilities and understand the complex needs of these students, they have the ability to transform students' lives and help them understand how to be successful in school and life.
So, the best practice is for parents and educators to keep communication open on the progress of the child. The more communication between educator and parents on the needs of the child, the better chance the child will have to succeed.
And that's the ultimate goal for every educator, right?
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