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Academic Strategies


  • Develop and reinforce the following concept with your child:  Environment has a powerful effect on behavior.  A “good environment” encourages positive, purposeful behavior.  Few environments are inherently “perfect”, but can be modified in many ways.  Our task is to learn how to create or modify environments so they fit our learning style.  Likewise, we can eliminate distractions from our environment.  We truly can create environments for success.


  • Stop using labels such as LD and/or ADHD outside of IEP meetings and other discussions regarding legal rights and services. Instead, discuss the specific characteristics of LD and ADHD which may be obstacles to success if not mediated.


  • Help your child understand their different learning styles.  Often, students learn differently in a variety of settings.  Many students learn best by doing and have an innate kinesthetic – tactile sense.  It is important to know whether your child has a more visual or auditory approach when taking in information.  This can be particularly helpful when learning spelling or vocabulary words or studying for a test.


  • Recognize the kinesthetic / tactile learning style preference in your child.  Use a felt board or other multi-sensory surface for learning spelling words, math facts, or vocabulary.  Role play to reinforce history lessons.  Be prepared to turn your kitchen into a math lab.  Movement is a part of the learning process.


  • Include your child in the IEP or evaluation process.  LD still appears to be a mystery to them.  Demystify it by discussing testing results and providing them a copy of the IEP.


  • Encourage your child to ask questions during or after their IEP conference.  Have them paraphrase what they heard during the conference.


  • Your child’s auditory sense seems very strong.  Encourage them to use this strength when learning.  This might mean ordering their text books on tape from “Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic” and listening to the tape while reading.  Pairing modalities such as auditory and visual will always increase learning effectiveness.  When learning spelling words, vocabulary terms, or the like put the words or terms on tape and listen to them.


  • Your child’s visual sense seems very strong.  Encourage them to use this strength when learning.  This might mean putting spelling and vocabulary words on “flash cards” and using them for review.  It might also mean asking a teacher for copies of overheads used during a lecture or a fellow student for a copy of the notes, if written language is a challenge.


  • Whenever developing any new learning strategies, such as books on tape, flash cards, or felt board, please involve your child in the planning process.  In the end they will be more likely to “own” the idea and more likely to make use of it.”


  • Your child seems to have a preference for experiential learning.  This “learn by doing / hands-on” process draws on every day life experiences as the basis for learning.  The supermarket becomes a classroom for reinforcing ADHDition and multiplication.  The kitchen turns into a math lab as a recipe is doubled or cut in half.  History is best lived and learned through recreations.  Science is best learned in museums, especially those filled with hands-on exhibits.  The written word has greatest value if the experiential learner really has something to express.  Most of the child’s learning will take place outside of the classroom.  You are not only parent but master teacher.


  • As an experiential learner, your child will thrive on projects, demonstrations, experiments, re-creations / re-enactment, role playing, and similar classroom activities.  Encourage these types of assignments as alternatives to traditional pencil and paper activities.


  • Consider these ideas as your child prepares for the new school year:  a) request copies of next year’s texts for preview,  b) order copies of these books on tape,  c) visit the new classroom(s) and teacher(s) one week before school begins,  and d) start the “school year routine” and “schedule” one week before school begins.  Brainstorm other strategies which will assist with transition.


  • After discovering your child learning style, encourage teachers to utilize this information when presenting important material.  Ultimately, you are your child’s best advocate.


  • Allow your child to watch you cultivate your relationship with school personnel.  Ensure your first contact with the school each year is positive.  Share words and expression of thanks often.  There are as many opportunities as there are holidays.  Volunteer at school.  Your child will learn valuable lessons by watching you.


  • The ultimate goal is self-advocacy.  This is a learned skill, associated with yet distinct from, assertiveness.  Encourage your child to attend IEP meetings or school staffing beginning in late elementary grades.  By high school they will be able to direct these meetings.


For more information or targeted strategies regarding your child’s specific strengths or challenges contact our Family Support Coordinator, Dr. Liz Simpson (Liz@soarnc.org).