School is hard, ask any student in any grade. Each new lesson brings challenges for students with undiagnosed learning disabilities and these challenge can turn into a burden. Development disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD affect one in five children in the United State and 48% of parents believe their children will outgrow these disabilities.
Learning disabilities cannot be outgrown but they can be recognized at school, diagnosed properly, and a plan can be created for assisting a child with a learning disability. Our faculty are trained to notice the difference between attention issues and a learning disability. Below are different learning disabilities and how they are most commonly diagnosed:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a chronic condition that begins in childhood and will with a person as they grow older. A child with ADHD can be faced with mood swings, forgetfulness, and the inability to focus on the appropriate stimuli and move from task to task.
Students who are failing, struggling in their schoolwork for an extended period, or act out in frustration may have ADHD. A clinical psychiatrist or psychologist can provide a diagnosis for a child with these symptoms.
Dyscalculia is a learning disability in students who have severe difficulty with math calculations and functions. Some symptoms include difficulty counting backwards and remembering basic math facts, poor sense of numbers and estimations, and often high levels of anxiety around math. Dyscalculia makes it hard for students to do math tasks, sometimes these students understand the logic behind math but not how or when to apply that logic to solve problems.
Dyscalculia is one type of learning disability. Through a series of diagnostic math exams, a trained psychologist can identify symptoms consistent with dyscalculia. Coincidentally, a similar test is used to identify students who are excelling in math to place them in higher level classes such as calculus.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability diagnosed in students who have severe difficulty in their writing abilities. Symptoms of dysgraphia present themselves through difficulties spelling, poor handwriting, and struggle with the ability to write thoughts.
Dysgraphia is tested through a series of reading, writing, language, and IQ tests. Many functions of writing involve motor and information processing skills.
Dyslexia is a learning disability exemplified by severe reading difficulties. Symptoms often involve problems identifying speech sounds, trouble with decoding letters and words. Students with dyslexia may have delayed speech, difficulty learning new vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Dyslexia is diagnosed using a variety of assessments including oral language skills, word recognition, decoding, spelling, and phonological processing tests.
At Lake Michigan Academy, when a student is struggling we work to understand how the student is struggling: it could be a difficulty focusing or it could be a difficulty with understanding math or reading. We work to ensure the student will be well-equipped for success in school and beyond.
Learning disabilities don’t have to hinder a student’s school experience. Learn more about our individualized and prescriptive educational plans and tutoring options for students by taking a tour of our school.
School can be a pleasant experience for some children, with its regular ups and downs. But for others, it can be frightening. In addition to learning the basics like reading, writing, and math, students use school to develop the foundational social skills and coping mechanisms they’ll need in order to fit into everyday environments.
For some students, social skills can be more difficult abilities to master, and make school discouraging. Parents and teachers can help children with social skill deficits by modeling, role-playing, rehearsing, and practicing the fundamentals of relating to others. The special education programs at Lake Michigan Academy (LMA) are excellent options for children and teens with developmental disabilities and social challenges. We offer an independent day school and an individualized learning curriculum. Additionally, one-on-one tutoring is available.
We have comprehensive full-time programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. In addition to core instruction, our students in the full-time program will receive support as needed through small-group classes for reading, writing and/or math skills. These small groups, or Labs, allow our teachers and students to focus on skill areas at an individual level. Our teachers incorporate specialized methods, including Orton Gillingham, to provide instruction, filling in skill gaps and supporting each student’s unique learning comforts.
Students enrolled in our full-time programs attend classes designed to support their intellectual and social-emotional development. Our elementary students enjoy these classes as well as physical education, art, music, STEAM and People Skills. Middle school students experience similar classes in addition to weekly Community Service and Enrichment. Our high school students are offered daily electives which may have an emphasis on service, employment skills, communication skills, strategies for learning or organization, or technology.
Our part-time program for high school students allows for core courses at LMA and complete additional elective credits at another high school, at an ISD campus through Career-Tech Ed (CTE) programs such as those at Kent Career Technical Center (KCTC), Launch U, Kent Transition Center (KTC), a community college through Dual Enrollment, or at a worksite through work-study or an internship.
Teaching Social Skills
Traditional schools will work with children to improve learning challenges. However, children with learning differences in traditional school settings often miss the focus on improving social skills. These schools often rely on parents and professionals to address the lack of social skills, which can include the inability to relate to other children, form friendships or resolve conflicts. At LMA, we help families find the right balance of academic and social encouragement to support their children’s behavioral challenges.
Learning Solutions: How Parents Can Help
While children typically develop social skills on their own, it’s no surprise that parents play a significant role in their social skill development. Children who do need help acquiring social skills, self-help books and online resources can be an excellent first step for parents. Through these resources, parents can receive instruction for modeling, role-playing and giving a child opportunities to practice their skills. They will usually offer guidance on encouragement and praise to reinforce the successful use of a new skill.
If a parent observes significant social difficulties within their child, finding a professional partner such as LMA, and our talented group of teachers and tutors is usually the next step. Our experienced professionals offer structured and guided learning programs, often in group settings, so children can practice new skills they can take into school and other social settings.
Learning Solutions: How Teachers Can Help
School is the place where children commonly spend time with others their ages, so it is a natural setting to learn, practice and reinforce appropriate social skills. In this setting, teachers have the opportunity to help children develop and hone their social skills. They should be vigilant – sensitive to teasing and bullying and observant of children who are rejected or ignored by others. Teachers should work in collaboration with parents to help prevent the humiliation, embarrassment and distress that accompany social weaknesses.
Our teachers at LMA can facilitate a child’s path to gaining social competency in a variety of ways. For instance, we will pair a socially adept child with a socially inept child (“child in need of training”), giving them a task that will promote compassionate interactions and joint success. We will also engage children in learning exercises that promote collaboration and the respect of differences, rather than competition. In identifying and recognizing the unique strengths within each unique student, understanding the causes and effects of social weaknesses, and reinforcing an environment where inclusion is celebrated, our teachers make a substantial difference in improving social abilities, both in the classroom and in life.
Please refer to our Contact information to speak with a Lake Michigan Academy administrator and learn more about our effective child and young adult learning and intervention programs.
STEM - the acronym for (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), has a highly significant role in assisting with the education of ADHD and dyslexic students struggling in a traditionally oriented classroom environment. ADHD and Dyslexia are often tied together as 50 to 60 percent of students that test positive for ADHD are also diagnosed with dyslexia. Current research indicates 70% of children with ADHD also have Learning Disabilities. Students with these types of developmental disabilities may have many gifts that make STEM education beneficial for them and the way their brains learn.
Channeling the Gifts of Children with ADHD/Dyslexia in a Custom Curriculum
In a traditional classroom setting, children with ADHD, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities may very well stand out from others. They often struggle with short attention spans while being taught under direct instruction. In some cases, they may be challenged to remain in their seats during class time. Students with ADHD/Dyslexia may be easily distracted by odd noises in the classroom setting, such as the hum of a heating vent or the grinding of a pencil sharpener. Most often, students with these conditions will struggle with following directions and focusing in the classroom. More often than not, the traits that may make children with ADHD/Dyslexia struggle in a traditional class, make them successful in STEM Education and multisensory learning opportunities.
STEM, ADHD/Dyslexia, and Creativity
Students with ADHD/Dyslexia learning differences have many aptitudes that can be positive in the context of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Students with ADHD have the propensity of being energetic. When working on STEM-based tasks such as programming or robotics, these tasks can be time-consuming and cause physical and mental fatigue.
Conversely, students with ADHD/Dyslexia possess the ability to sustain their energy through long, complicated tasks that would wear out the typical person. Students with ADHD/Dyslexia tend to be creative and inventive, particularly in a stimulating learning environment. Creativity happens when many regions of the brain interact. These regions govern different types of thought, as well as emotion. Creativity is an essential skill for students to succeed in STEM classrooms and STEM-related careers.
Intuition, ADHD/Dyslexia, and Real-World Problem Solving
Students with ADHD/Dyslexia tend to be able to reason problems out intuitively without having to practice a conscious reasoning process. People with ADHD/Dyslexia, the vicinity of the brain where intuition happens is typically more fully developed than in people who don't have ADHD/Dyslexia. Intuition permits the child to look at problems on a deeper level, and real-world dilemmas are the foundation of STEM education.
As part of a STEM challenge, students could be presented with a real-world problem such as trash ending up in a watershed. Their intuition will give them an edge over a typical student. Whereas another student may have to work consciously through the reasoning process to analyze the situation, a child with ADHD/Dyslexia will approach it differently and will be able to analyze and reason the problem perhaps more quickly because their enhanced sense of intuition will draw the brain to the most critical aspects more quickly. Engineers need this skill to be successful in working on complex programs they face in their careers.
Benefits of STEM Education for ADHD/Dyslexia Students
The creative and intuitive nature of students with ADHD/Dyslexia lends itself well to academic models often used in STEM education. The 'flipped classroom' used in STEM education classes works well for children with ADHD/Dyslexia. In this model, the direct instruction component, such as reading and taking notes, is completed outside of the classroom at home.
Hands-on STEM activities tend to focus on real-world problem-solving. That model allows for direct instruction to be accomplished in a self-paced atmosphere. The flipped model removes the pressure from children with ADHD/Dyslexia who may need to take more breaks during the direct instruction to refocus themselves by getting up and moving. During actual class time, it is easier for children with ADHD/Dyslexia to manage their symptoms because they are engaged in STEM activities that alight with their strengths: creativity, intuitiveness, and kinesthetic learning.
STEM education also engages ADHD/Dyslexic students who suffer short attention spans in technology. When students engage in STEM and technology, they are connected to a world of fast-shifting images. This rapid shifting of sounds and images associated with using the technology of all kinds appeals to the ADHD/Dyslexia learner, who is naturally a non-linear thinker. A conventional learner might need a teacher to walk them slowly from A to D. An ADHD/Dyslexic student doesn't learn that way. Their minds naturally jump from point to point and then assimilates all of that input into the actual learning.
Lake Michigan Academy offers effective custom curriculums and tutoring to students with learning challenges.