As a teacher I’ve encountered many types of students, with a range of learning, social and emotional needs. Struggling to support your child in the conventional learning space? Read on for advice, as well as some tips from my teacher toolkit.
👉🏼 Young people don’t decide how their brains work
In a society consumed by productivity, happiness, success and money (not to mention all four at once), it can be hard to keep up. Now, imagine you’re a young person who rebels against these values every single day. Add in social pressure and unpredictable moods. Life = one big challenge!
Neurodiversity is a term that refers to those whose brains work in a different way to those deemed the ‘mainstream’. Amongst many others, this can manifest itself as:
💡 Dyslexia and dyspraxia
Most importantly, we all need to understand that society tells us how, and how quickly, to think and work. Those who are neurodiverse often don’t think in the same way, so can struggle in organised spaces such as classrooms.
It’s up to us, not them, to be inclusive!
👉🏼 Change the way we teach = change the way they learn
It’s vital that we plan to change the way we teach if we want neurodiverse students to feel more successful as they learn.
Here’s an example of how I adapt my teaching to work with students diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). First, I remember that these kinds of students are often labelled as ‘difficult’, ‘trouble makers’ and ‘loud’, and I reject those labels completely 🖐🏼
ADHD can manifest itself in many ways in young people, including restlessness, fixation, shouting out ideas or disrupting others around them. What can you do to improve?
✅ Sit down with your child and establish boundaries. How many times can they ask you the same question? Will you allow them to speak aloud without a hand raised? How long will you wait before answering their question? Have this ready in your own mind, but share it with them, too!
✅ Think carefully about the learning methods that you use. From experience, those with ADHD appreciate a clear model answer from me before starting to work independently, as well as regular rest breaks and time-outs. I apply the Rosenshine Principles to most aspects of my lessons. Teaching more than one child? All learners will benefit from these tools and activities, not just those who are neurodiverse!
✅Praise, review and adapt regularly. Create a space where the student can tell you what’s working, and keep an eye on behaviour along the way.
These steps can be transferred right into the home from the classroom. Worried about being too strict? Students need fair boundaries, and will quickly adapt to these new ways of working!
👉🏼 Neurodiverse people help us think outside the box!
Remembering that difference is an advantage, and never the opposite, is central to reducing the stigma that surrounds neurodiversity. Greta Thunberg? Elon Musk? Alan Turin? All are neurodiverse individuals and models who have used their alternate ways of thinking for good.
Notice your neurodiverse child struggling with sensory overload? This is a common side effect of their higher emotional intelligence. Whilst they may struggle socially, neurodiverse people are often proven to think more creatively, logically and be more successful than their neurotypical counterparts 🚀
Ultimately there is no right way of thinking, and it’s society that channels these strict values and traits. Empowering young people to find strength in their adaptable brains is the greatest thing you as parents can do.
As a teacher, I’ve developed a toolkit over the years to make more and more young people feel included in the classroom. My tips for you? 🔥
✔️ Reduce memory overload by breaking down instructions.
✔️ Keep language simple, both written and verbally. Ask them to repeat back to you as often as you can!
✔️ Ask your child how they like to learn. On white paper? Blue? On or off screen? Using a black or coloured pen? This can change their learning experience completely!
✔️ Allow thinking-time; nothing has to be instant! This also aids retrieval practice and long-term memory strength.
👉🏼 At GoStudent we consider the needs of each individual learner carefully, and our tutors proudly adapt their teaching to suit each child. Do you want to find out more? Book a free trial tutoring class with one of our experts!