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Sunday, September 15, 2013

What is the Best Way to Support Your Child in the Classroom?

From Special-Ism.com

By Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC
September 14, 2013

If your child is struggling in school, it is important to uncover the issues that are creating the challenges before any appropriate intervention can be made. For many children, it’s not the content of the academics that is creating the difficulty, but rather the process of learning and performing that is more challenging.

For these children (many of whom are diagnosed with ADHD and/or Executive Function deficits), poor impulse control, slower processing speed and an inability to sustain attention severely hamper their ability to reach their potential.

Additionally, for many of these children, anxiety, staying organized and utilizing working memory to manipulate and remember multiple steps can cause challenges that impact their learning and performance as well.


Accommodations and Modifications

There are several accommodations and modifications that can help reduce the added pressure these deficits create, while allowing the student to more accurately demonstrate what they know and have learned. Many of these can be informally provide by the classroom teacher. However, for the best assurance that these services will be provided, and for consistency across the years of schooling, it is best, when possible, to receive them as part of a 504 Plan or an IEP (Individual Education Plan).

Below is a broad list of common accommodations and modifications. As your child’s parent, you often know your child best. It is important to speak up and advocate in your child’s best interest. Depending on your child’s specific learning situation, you may request additional services that are unique to your child.

When you approach your child’s team, be armed with knowledge of how your child is impacted by different challenges, and be open to working together with the team to develop the best interventions for your child.

Acquire Learning Tools

There are many tools and techniques that can help a student increase his performance:
  • Obtain efficient and rapid keyboarding skills;
  • Use a computer graphic organizer program;
  • Use an effective homework and assignment tracking system;
  • Plan long-term assignments by establishing short-term assignments and due dates;
  • Develop a system for actively turning in completed assignments;
  • Use a blank card or other item to help with tracking when reading;
  • Learn multiple strategies for note taking, studying, and quiz/test taking so student can discover their preferred method;
  • Use a timer to stay on task and to budget time.

Promote Active Learning
  • Provide class notes to allow for additional focus during lesson time and to support at home learning and studying;
  • Provide a study partner for added learning through discussion and modeling;
  • Reinforce positive behaviors with specific praise to help with motivation and positive mindset;
  • Provide reading material that is appropriate and stimulating with consideration for both fluency and comprehension levels. Explore audio books if appropriate;
  • Highlight important information and material.



Use Working Memory Aids

  • Provide written instruction for classwork and homework;
  • Allow use of calculator, formula sheets, and rule sheets;
  • Provide visual aids for multiple step projects and activities.

Encourage Organization
  • Color code materials for each subject;
  • Direct support for developing effective organization of materials, including multiple subject materials management and systems for remembering materials for home and school.

Maximize Attention and Positive Behavior
  • Discuss seat assignment with student to minimize distractions and maximize teacher support;
  • Post classroom rules and schedules to aid in compliance and transitions;
  • Develop discreet plan and signal with student for when student is distracted or off task;
  • Develop discreet plan and signal with student for times when movement or less distracting environment is needed;
  • Prepare for transition time with ample warning and transition plan.

Improve Student Output
  • Give quizzes and tests to student alone or in small group;
  • Allow extra time for assignments, quizzes, and tests;
  • Allow short breaks during testing;
  • Administer tests over multiple sessions;
  • Provide interval time goals for longer assignments, quizzes and tests;
  • Reduce distractions with study carrel;
  • Reminder for review of grammar and spelling;
  • Allow for use of word processor to aid in speed and legibility of output;
  • Allow for use of dictation software or other means of presenting information;
  • Modify length of assignments when possible;
  • Allow for white noise or headphones during independent work to reduce auditory distractions;
  • Provide alternate method of demonstrating knowledge and skills;
  • Allow student to write answers directly on test rather than Scantron;
  • When possible, reduce the writing required by student and do not require rote copying of material from other sources.

Consider Additional Supports
  • Adjust scheduling of classes so that classes that require the most mental focus are during student’s peak learning time.
  • Parent collaboration and communication;
  • Have open communication with parent and student together about agreements and arrangements made with student regarding strategies and supports for staying on task, organizing, completing work, etc. so that parent can support and reinforce efforts at home;
  • Maintain communication log (via notebook or email) with parent and students regarding goals, progress, and performance;
  • Meet with student quarterly to set goals for performance (behavior, homework completion, quality of work), not just grades. This will allow student to adjust efforts and improve quality of performance;
  • Provide break down of grade to show performance on content, grammar, process, etc.;
  • Age appropriate discussion of how learning challenges impact the student;
  • Training and education for teacher regarding student’s profile and challenges.

About Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC

Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC, is a certified ADHD Coach and Parenting Specialist, providing education, tools, strategies and support to help parents reduce the arguing, stress and chaos that so often exist on a daily basis. Coaching and Parent Trainings are provided in person and on the phone. For more information, visit: PTS Coaching.

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NESCA FAQ: Why does an evaluation at NESCA always address educational issues?
NESCA considers testing for both diagnostic and educational purposes to be inseparable elements of an effective evaluation. Because your child’s disability will inevitably affect his or her performance in school, it is essential to understand the nature and extent of that impact. Much of any necessary remediation may well happen in school, and we need to be able to write well-reasoned, specific recommendations about how the school should address your child’s special needs.

These recommendations must be made persuasively, in a way that maximizes the likelihood that the school will recognize the recommended services as integral parts of the "free and appropriate public education (FAPE)" that public schools are required to provide to children with special needs. In addition, your child may need, and be entitled to, accommodations for his or her disability in the academic setting, and this also needs to be carefully documented.

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