Here how you can create an inclusive environment for students having learning disabilities.
How to create an inclusive education program for children with learning disabilities
Let’s begin by first understanding what Learning Disabilities are. Learning disabilities is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of learning problems in children. This is not a problem with intelligence or motivation of the child. It is a problem with processing and how the brain receives and processes information. This causes difficulties in learning new material and putting already learnt material to use. The most common types of Learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, listening, speaking and reasoning. Every child will struggle with academic work from time to time, however it may be indicative of a learning disability only if persistent consistently over an extended period of time.
How to create an Inclusive environment for students having learning disabilities?
- Students having learning disabilities are intelligent and need a modification in the instructional strategy.
- The first and foremost requirement would be teachers trained to teach children having Learning Disabilities.
- Teacher Training needs to be continuous, focus on teaching content using a multisensorial approach
- Student teacher ratio must be no more than 12:1 for the learners to be given equal attention as well as equal opportunities to raise questions, clear doubts etc.
- Curriculum needs to be broken into smaller units so that students are not overwhelmed by the volume of content to be assimilated all at once.
- Assessments need to be continuous and broken into smaller units to be memorized and recalled rather than two or three large assessments annually. The volume expected to learn and recall must be built up gradually through the year.
- Use digital tools to assess, oral evaluations and Multiple choice questions and other non-threatening methods of assessment other than only the traditional paper pencil method.
- Emphasis on practical training, experiential learning such as creating models, field trips, experiments and hands-on training.
- Modelings works well to retain concepts. Follow the strategy, I do, we do, you do!
- Remedial education needs to be part of the school program to work on the learners lags to aid content learning. Remediation is not tuition it does not work on repeating the content rather it modifies the manner in which it is taught alongside teaching strategies to recall, assimilate and process information.
- Occupational and Speech therapy should be available to all students. Occupational therapy in particular is highly beneficial for those having learning disabilities. Learning issues are tackled by Remediation, Sensory Integration, Occupational therapy and Speech therapy
- Counseling must be offered to all students, not merely those facing difficulties but also their peers to create a truly inclusive and empathetic learning environment for all.
- Given that most difficulties are apparent while learning, create opportunities to hone other skills. Create a robust co curricular/ activity program. Drama, Dance, Music, Singing, Coding, Physical education to name a few.
- Use online and other academic digital tools to enhance the learning process. Learning through audiovisual means creates a more long-lasting impact. Have projectors, smart boards and other such tools in the classroom.
- Have clear goals for the child, create opportunities for success and remember to always keep the instructions simple.
- Teach questioning skills this will help reasoning as well as prepare the child for questions phrased in multiple ways in an exam.
- Any human being with a disadvantage exposed will go through feelings of helplessness, frustrations and low esteem. A program that focuses on Mental Health is mandatory to help build self-esteem and keep the student motivated to learn.
- The Mental Health program must be focussed not only on those students having learning disabilities, but also on the rest of the student population as well. Teaching empathy, inclusivity and compassion is key to create a safe bully free learning environment.
Authored by Piya Marker, Director – Head of School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School