How we can best address the needs of students with learning difficulties

Students with learning difficulties often display common ‘coping’ behaviours. These can range from homework
avoidance, copying others’ work, fidgeting, daydreaming and disruptive behaviour. Problems can be physical, developmental, social, confidence-related, organisational or concept-based. Teachers agree there are several strategies
that are important for teaching students with learning difficulties, and these include positive reinforcement, small teacher to student ratios, peer mentoring, minimising distraction and the provision of learning aids.

But in a busy classroom or tuition centre, what works best for learning?

In a study by researchers from the University of Queensland, small group learning was found to be most effective
for remedial teaching when highly structured organisation and activities were implemented. Students were placed in mixed gender and ability groups and those in the structured groups were found to work together with clear direction and
to achieve higher results than those in unstructured group activities (Gillies & Ashman, 2000). Certainly, guided small group work is one effective way to assist students with learning difficulties and to help build confidence for the regular classroom setting.

My Academy offers structured small group programs for primary, secondary and adult students. For example, our
Skillbuilder program for Year 3 to 7 Maths and English addresses the core learning areas in the Maths and English curricula as well as working on specific learning skills such as goal-setting, using initiative, problem-solving and being organised. Skillbuilder combines guided group instruction, individualised programs and 1 to 1 help within the small group

Source: Gillies, R. & Ashman, A.
‘The effects of cooperative learning on students with learning difficulties in
the lower elementary school.’ The Journal of Special Education, April
2000. Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 19-27.

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