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Options for Helping a Struggling Student

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Boy with notebookWhen a child is struggling in school, we have three choices for ways to help. We can remediate, accommodate, or teach the child to compensate.

If at all possible, we should fix the problem. The best example of this is a child who does not read well. Maybe she has trouble figuring out the words on the page, or she can read the words but cannot understand what they mean. If we set up a program that teaches them how to read better, we are remediating or fixing the skill deficit. This is ideal. When possible, problems children have in school should be remediated. This can take a long time depending on the severity and type of problem. Sometimes it requires a specialist trained in remediation.

Other things that help can take less time and effort. Often, students can learn to manage their own problem. For example, if one of my students can spell pretty well but still makes errors, I teach them how to type and to word process their work so that the spelling checker can point out which words are misspelled. This is called compensating for the skill deficit. The student handles the problem himself.

Unfortunately, some problems cannot be fixed (or will take a long time to fix), and the child cannot manage them on their own. If a child has extremely poor eyesight, we must make an accommodation for the problem. For a variety of reasons, I might give a student near-point copies of notes and diagrams I put on the board. If needed, as for the child with poor eyesight, these near-points can be enlarged on the copier. With this simple accommodation, the child can succeed in my classroom.

Many compensatory strategies and accommodations require little effort on the part of the teacher. Once a child learns a compensatory strategy, they do it for themselves. Doing something like providing a copy of my notes for the student who needs them, takes very little time. Something very simple can make the difference between failure and success for a struggling student.

For a very long list of possible accommodations check out this article.


#5 drogers 2011-11-22 22:23
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#4 Livia McCoy 2010-09-29 15:49
You have an excellent question--How can you make sure your child does learn what he or she needs to learn in order to pass state assessment tests? First of all, catching and dealing with problems earlier is so much better than waiting until they have become more difficult to handle. Teaching reading requires some specialized training, so it might be important to get a tutor who can help with those skills. If you cannot afford to do that, contact your local learning disabilities association. They may have tutors available to help in both reading and math. Make sure the reading tutors use research-suppor ted methods for teaching. I will plan to write a blog about reading methods to watch for!
#3 Kristie Ensor 2010-09-28 18:59
I thank you for your blog ! I have a question for you I'm a parent that has grown up with a learning disability . I know from my own experience how frustrating and rewarding learning to read can be.I'm always learning there's things I should learned as a child and was not taught mostly in math .It makes it hard for me and embarasing that i can help with some simple things . I have 4 children and I know that my two youngest struggle with reading and math ,but mostly their reading.The state that we currently live in policy is that if they can not take the state assesment test when they reach high school they wont get a diploma. Instead they give a certificate of attendance.
#2 Livia McCoy 2010-09-19 16:11
Thank you, Connie. I really enjoy reading your blogs. It is great to join such a great team!
#1 Connie McCarthy 2010-09-17 22:56
Welcome to School Family Livia! Great to get the secondary school voice!

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