A good teacher knows that all students are not alike. Some children may need a little extra support or a different learning approach to fully benefit from. In many classrooms, students are expected to “sit still” and “pay attention” for an entire class period or for several hours in a row. For some students with disabilities or learning differences, this can be an impossible task.
Though teachers will have a number of strategies to cater to the different needs of the students, here are five strategies which they can try out to help such students.
1. Begin class with a mindful minute:
The excitement and disruption caused by transitions between classes can be challenging for students and teachers alike. At the beginning of every class, I take 60 seconds to help students focus attention on their breathing and calm their nervous system, helping their brain become ready to learn. You can ask them to do some breathing exercises.
2. Incorporate movement:
For some students, it can be difficult to pay attention to what the teacher is saying and sit still. Movement is an effective cognitive strategy to strengthen the learning skills of the student. Movement helps stimulate neural networks in the brain and increases blood flow, which puts students in a better mindset to think and activity oriented lessons will help such children.
3. Take sensory breaks:
Sometimes, a little bit of movement in one’s chair isn’t enough. Taking sensory breaks will help children to relieve stress and to improve their focus. These breaks can be built into the regular class schedule or utilized as needed for individual students. There are a wide variety of sensory tools that can be used during these short breaks, including kinetic sand, calming coloring books, a pocket Etch A Sketch, water beads, a white noise sound machine and sequined mermaid pillows, among others.
4. Build foundational cognitive skills:
Attention is a foundational cognitive skill that students need to become successful learners. Many children who have trouble with focus and attention do not process information efficiently. It is necessary to prepare each student’s brain for reading and learning by improving the cognitive skills. Providing individualized, intensive practice on a variety of language and reading skills, and then reinforcing those skills by using speech verification technology to provide guided oral reading support will be helpful.
5. Create a growth mindset classroom:
By creating a growth mindset classroom, we can help students take more ownership of their learning and achieve their independence. The key is to emphasize the effort that students are putting in, rather than their intellectual ability, therefore helping them learn how to persevere and grow.