"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
The role of teachers is critical to the success of students with learning difficulties. There are lots of ways in which a teacher can help these students.
Here you will find a brief introduction to handling children with learning difficulties.
How can teachers help their students with learning difficulties?
- Learn more about learning difficulties
Many teachers are not aware of learning difficulties. Almost all the schools, in India, don’t have books on learning difficulties. Becoming aware of learning difficulties is the first step in helping children with learning difficulties. Teachers can learn all about learning difficulties. Read books on this subject and learn from experts in this field.
Attend training sessions on identifying learning difficulties in children. Learn more about remedial teaching. If the school doesn’t have a resource room, take initiative to have one established. The school may have to appoint special educators.
- Involve in forming a policy on dealing with children having learning difficulties
Many schools don’t have a strategy for dealing with children having learning difficulties. Teachers can influence the management of the school to form a positive attitude towards these children. The state governments/various other Boards of Education have provided concessions and accommodations to students with learning difficulty. It is the responsibility of teachers to ensure that their students get these benefits. For children with severe learning difficulties, examinations conducted by The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) would be beneficial. Learn more about NIOS.
- Educate parents
Parents may not be aware of the shortcomings of their children. They don’t know how other children of the same age as their child perform in school. The feedback from teachers is a great help to parents. Teachers can also suggest remedial measures.
- Early identification and intervention
Prepare a comprehensive checklist of what a child of specific age group should achieve. Reading fluency, writing skills, handwriting, spelling, handling numbers, word problems, ability to follow instructions, ability in understanding concepts, social skills, attention and memory are some of the items that can be included in the checklist.
The checklist would help teachers to spot children at risk. Early identification and intervention are crucial for children with learning difficulties.
- Identify learning style of students
Some people learn best by seeing or reading (visual), others by listening (auditory), and still others by doing (kinesthetic). Every one of us has a dominant learning style. Learning happens when a child is taught according to her/his dominant learning style. To reach every student, a teacher has to adopt all the three learning styles in her/his teaching.
- Accept, encourage and praise children with learning difficulties
Children with learning difficulty often feel left out and rejected. More often than not, this sense of rejection is the root cause behind their bad behaviour. Establish eye contact with them and make them feel a sense of belonging. If possible, give them responsibilities. These children are desperately looking for approval and recognition. Provide these and see the change! Encourage and praise them. Small steps of teachers can set the stage for future success.
- Understand children with learning difficulties too have a great potential
A study shows that around 33% of Chief Executive Officers of Fortune 500 companies (these are considered as the most successful ones) in America have learning difficulties. The following table lists six most successful businessmen. All of them have learning difficulties.
Name Company John Chambers Cisco Paul Orfalea Kinkos Peter Knight Checkfree Richard Bronson Virgin David Neeleman Jet Blue
Many scientists including Nobel Prize winners have/had learning difficulties. Many celebrities have learning difficulties. In fact, the list of people who battled learning difficulties to rise to eminence is very long.
Teachers should see the potential in children with learning difficulties, reach out to them and transform their lives. They should not condemn or reject children with learning difficulties. When teachers interact with a child having learning difficulty, they should see the face of a winner.