Every parent deals with learning issues as their children progress through school. Not understanding math concepts is one thing, but what if you suddenly realize that your child can't read. He just cannot process the characters on the page in order to make sense of them. That's a whole different thing. You need to deal with this issue as it will not disappear. Read the information on All Kinds of Minds. Understand that there is much research on learning differences and disabilities. Realize that processing information, developing good study habits, and much more, are important aspects of what you are dealing with. The National Center for Learning Disabilities lays out a road map for you.
If you let this go on without remediating it, he's going to have bigger issues as he heads into adolescence. You cannot allow him to become discouraged. It makes so much more sense to begin helping him right now. To delay merely postpones the inevitable.
The first thing you need to do is have him assessed professionally. You will receive many opinions from family and friends. These people mean well, but their observations and opinions cannot be considered authoritative. Your child's future is at stake. Spend the money to have a thorough evaluation performed by an experienced professional.You must find out the parameters of his learning disability. An in depth assessment will look at every aspect of how he processes information. Once that's done then you can begin to plot a course of action. Read How to Get a Child Tested: Guidelines for Special Education Assessment for more detail on this subject.
Choosing a Day or Boarding School
Which is better? Keeping him at home or sending him to a residential school? You can always keep him at home. You can probably find tutors locally. But there's much more to his remediation than just fixing the problem of not being able to read. There are self-confidence issues. Perhaps it just makes more sense to send him off to boarding school where he will have the kind of professional help and individual attention he needs. And 24/7 too. That's why boarding schools which cater to children with learning disabilities are such a good option. Here are two examples of the enlightened approaches boarding schools take when teaching students who learn differently.
Forman School in Litchfield, Connecticut describes its program as follows:
"Forman School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school with a vital purpose: to deliver an unparalleled education for students with learning differences and to empower them to succeed in college and throughout their lives. Forman is for students in grades 9 through 12 and postgraduates who are bright and academically motivated. They have been diagnosed with dyslexia, other language-based learning disabilities, executive function difficulties, or attention deficits that have created challenges for them in the past."
Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, New York describes its Center for Learning Achievment approach as follows:
"The Center for Learning Achievement offers individualized, vigorous programs to strengthen a student's academic growth. These programs are tailored to boys who have dyslexia or other language-based learning differences, students with executive function challenges, and international students aiming to improve their academic English proficiency. Using a modified Orton-Gillingham method, our teachers provide a nurturing, yet challenging learning environment and set the bar high. Rather than simplifying content, we give each boy the tools he needs to process and retain information, unlocking his innate intelligence and curiosity."
How encouraging is that? Focussing on the needs of the whole child, as opposed to simply showing him how to read, is at the heart of what these boarding schools do so expertly and compassionately. This video discusses how a special needs school works.
Explore all the schools on our list of boarding schools which specialize in teaching students with learning disabilities. Discuss your options with an educational consultant and learning specialist. Plan a course of action which will chart a course for life for your child.
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