Learning support and special education needs are on the rise. And whilst many children may require individualised support or small group tuition in core subjects, there are some simple steps that will ensure your classroom is an inclusive classroom for all. So how can you introduce inclusive teaching and learning.
1. Thinking Time
Many children with learning differences also have slow RAN (processing speed – 50% of dyslexics are believed to have slow RAN). Therefore giving ALL children time to think about a question posed, or instruction given is a simple way to ensure everyone is given a chance.
It is commonplace for a teacher to ask a question. Then to immediately ask children to put their hands up with the answer. Try to make sure you leave some time between posing the question and asking for hands up. This ensures those with slower processing speed have had the time to process the information and formulate an answer.
Likewise, if you have given an instruction to the class, ensure you give a little extra time to follow the instruction for those with slow RAN. Also, for inclusive teaching and learning, ensure that instructions are given in chunks. Too many instructions in one go will result in overwhelm. Students may forget steps, as their working memory is unable to store.
At home: The above can also be used as a parent. Make sure you are giving adequate time for your son/daughter to respond to a question asked. Or to an instruction given. Is it possible to break the instruction down and give one step at a time?
2. Colour Coding
Children with learning differences struggle with their planning and organisation. Organizational skills can affect a child’s time management, showing as ineffective planning and struggling to estimate time. Children may underestimate the amount of time a task will take, or all the steps needed to complete a task.
A simple but very effective way to help students is to colour-code lessons and books by subject. So a daily/weekly timetable would be broken down by subject/colour. Children are then able to quickly identify the books they require for that day/lesson by their books being the same colour as the subject they will be studying.
It could be further developed by using the same colour coding on the homework set for the week/term if possible.
At home: This can be utilized at home by displaying a child’s daily/weekly (whichever works for them) in full colour. They can then easily see which books they require for the day ahead. I wish I had found this tip out when my eldest two started secondary school!
3. Fist to Five
The Fist to Five strategy gives teachers a quick and easy way to identify the needs of their students. Hands are held close to the student’s chest before showing their choice. It also allows a child to let the teacher know what level of understanding they feel they have, without having to ‘announce’ to the whole class.
At home: Fist to Five can be used outside the classroom too. Especially to let a child inform you quietly of their emotional needs in an unfamiliar situation, or new surroundings.
4. Learner Profiles
We know that neurodivergent children learn differently. So how do you ensure that you are reaching all of your students in a way that helps them learn? Learner profiles are a fantastic way to find out what each of your students enjoys. What they love and how they love to learn. Twinkl has some great free resources that can be used to find out a little more about your students at the beginning of the academic year.
It is known that kinaesthetic and auditory learning helps ALL students to learn (think about why we remember nursery rhymes from when we were at school). So ensure for inclusive teaching and learning they are incorporated as much as possible into lessons.
At Home: Ask school for a copy of your child’s learner profile, or do your own with your child. Figuring out how they learn can really help when it comes to homework and class projects. Knowing what interests them and how to motivate them can ensure that frustration and overwhelm with homework can be greatly reduced.
The technology now available is a great leveller to students who would otherwise struggle. It is not giving them an advantage. Imagine telling a student with a broken leg they could not use their crutches to get to class, it is exactly the same for children with learning differences.
If a calculator allows them to focus on the greater math problem, rather than being stuck on an initial multiplication sum, then use a calculator. If using an immersive reader allows dyslexic students to focus on comprehension, rather than the mechanics of word decoding, then they should be allowed to use an immersive reader where relevant.
Technology should be seen as a tool to give those with learning differences a level footing. Ensuring that their learning is on the main point/reason of the lesson and not focusing on the semantics of getting there.
At home: Use whatever technology you have available to help your child. Speak to school and if at all possible try to mirror what they use. This will help to build familiarisation with learning in the classroom, to learning at home. But also do not be afraid to introduce new technology that you feel with help, and let school know what you have found works for you and your child.
Inclusive Teaching and Learning
Making a classroom as inclusive as you can, will only help to aid all students in that classroom. Teaching with traditional methods will hinder those with learning differences, but teaching in an inclusive manner will only help to aid all students in the classroom.
I’d love to hear about what methods and practices you have introduced into your classroom to aid your students with learning differences, or at home to help your child with organisation, learning and homework?
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