6 Strategies to Help Kids with LDs Succeed in School img

6 Strategies to Help Kids with LDs Succeed in School

The Law

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (C/th)

On page 5 it says that a disability includes:

(f) a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction

The Disability Standards in Education 2005 (DSE) (C/th)

On page 10 it says that the definition of a disability includes a learning disability.

It also says that ‘reasonable adjustments’ must be made for a person with a disability.

What it means at the chalk face.

The issue: Fatigue

Many children with learning disabilities are exhausted at the end of the school day and just want to sleep on the couch.

A reasonable adjustment

One of our members, with the agreement of the school, took her child (Grades 3-5) out of school for two hours every week so the child could be tutored. (Her tutor is a registered teacher)

Another of our members, with the agreement of the school, organised for her child to drop P.E. in Year 7 and do her homework in the school library instead. The child is now in Year 8 and has additionally dropped a foreign language in order to do her homework in the library.

Another member, with the agreement of the school, organised for her child to drop a foreign language in Year 9 in order to do her homework in the school library.

The issue: Extra Time

Many children with learning disabilities take longer to process information and so need extra time.

A reasonable adjustment

One of our members, with the agreement of the school, obtained extra time for her child, who was in Year 7, during school tests and NAPLAN.

The school of another of our members suggested that her child, who was in Year 9, be given extra time during school tests.

The issue: NAPLAN

Many schools want to exclude children who have a learning disability from doing NAPLAN. ALL children should do it.

Many schools have said “We are not allowed to give extra time or computers for children with LD”.

A reasonable adjustment

Children who have an LD are allowed to have both extra time and a computer as necessary. Quote from one of our parents:

“I’ve already had discussions with our school for special exam arrangements for XXX’s upcoming year 9 exams in order to document a history of special accommodations given by our school. XXX has been told he will be able to take his exams in a separate room, have extra time and use of a computer. 

XXX did have use of a computer for the NAPLAN tests. We recently received his results, which were great. I think we need to get the word out about students being able to use a computer for the NAPLAN tests.”

The issue: Homework, Fatigue, Time

Many children with learning disabilities are exhausted at the end of the school day and take longer to process information. They then can feel stressed and pressured when faced with lots of homework.

Homework is not compulsory and is not very effective. It was listed as the 17th most effective influence on student learning by Prof. Hattie (Melbourne Uni).

Homework should be differentiated. For example, if a child is 11 years old and the child’s reading/spelling is that of an 8 year old, the child should not be given the same spelling words as the other children. The weekly spelling words should be different.

Other ways to differentiate homework is to allow the child to:

  • Produce a poster or annotated diagram NOT necessarily an essay.
  • Children with a brilliant imagination who are verbally confident should be allowed to show their talents by recording a story, not necessarily writing it.

Homework should be allowed to be done on a computer, not necessarily in an exercise book.

A reasonable adjustment

In the Primary school:

Finland has a reputation for having the best Education system, of any OECD country. During the primary years they have little homework. They emphasise wellbeing and play.

Negotiate with your child’s teacher to determine which homework is important and which is ‘busy work’.

In the Secondary school:

In the lower secondary school, Years 7-9 students could do homework in the school library by dropping subjects. In the upper secondary years 10-12, students could opt to study fewer subjects. It is possible to take two years to study for VCE. The son of one of our members chose to do this and chose to study at RMIT for his second year of VCE. His mother notes that RMIT were very helpful and co-operative, particularly with regard to ‘special provision’.

The issue: Hearing

One of the hallmark characteristics of dyslexia is the inability to distinguish voices when there is background noise. This is called poor auditory discrimination.

A reasonable adjustment

At the primary level, where the main mode of communication is speech, classrooms can be noisy. Some kids find this stressful. The parent and friend group provided a boxful of headphones kids can use, if they want to, to block out the noise.

At the secondary level. One of our members requested that her child’s school install a sound system. This was implemented and paid for by the Parents and Friends group. (At a meeting the following year several of the teachers commented on how effective the sound system was. It improved the teaching for ALL the children.)

The issue: Assistive technology

Some dyslexics can read, but with difficulty. So for example a child might read a paragraph and by the time they’ve got to the end of the paragraph have difficulty in remembering what they read at the beginning of the paragraph.

A reasonable adjustment

Using an iPad, parents can download the various textbooks or books the child may need to read. Using the iPad a child can listen to the text (possibly using headphones) and also read the text as well as hearing it.

The issue: Writing

Some children with learning disabilities have difficulties with writing.

A reasonable adjustment

One of our members, with the agreement of the school, obtained permission for her child to use a computer during lessons and exams.

The issue: Choosing a school

Some schools do not recognise or understand learning disabilities such as dyslexia. There is research evidence that parents and their child’s school should be synchronous. If they are not, find another school!

A reasonable thing to do

One of our members found her local school to be unsympathetic towards her child’s LD. She interviewed twelve schools before finding one she thought was good enough. She then moved house into the zone of the chosen school. She reports that her son is a different child. He is now happy and learning.

(When bright kids fail by Lorraine Hammond)

The issue: Meeting with your school to discuss your child’s progress

Suggestion

When meeting with your child’s school there are often a number of teachers present. Some Mums find this intimidating. A suggestion is to take somebody with you to be your support. It could be a family member, friend or professional such as your educational psychologist (but you have to pay them).

The issue: VCAA

Many schools say “we have never had any request for special provision accepted by VCAA”. The document called the ‘VCAA special provision 2012” (in VCAA folder) when shown to the relevant school staff members has been very convincing. It has statistics to prove otherwise. This has been used by some of our parents as evidence that schools can gain special provision.

It is very difficult for children who have a learning disability to get special provision from the VCAA.

SEAS (Special Entry Access Scheme) part of VTAC

However, it is much easier to submit an SEAS to the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Clearinghouse (VTAC). This application goes directly to the Universities. (Universities are a different system as they are federally funded).

Depending on the course chosen by the child and the ATAR score the child achieved the SEAS application may result in a child being offered a course with a higher ATAR score.

Ann Williams

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