Diamond Home    Diamond Join    Diamond Help    Diamond Password Info   
myASCD Log In  
Association for Supervision and Curriculum DevelopmentFor the Success of Each Learner
Curriculum Handbook
Educational Leadership
Current Issue
Archived Issues
Study Guides
Search Articles
Give Feedback
Buy Back Issues
Write for Educational Leadership
Upcoming Themes
Guidelines for Writers
Advertise in Educational Leadership
Contact the Staff
Topic Packs
Write for ASCD
Archived Articles
Home > Publications > Educational Leadership > Archived Issues
Educational Leadership

View the print friendly version of this page.   E-mail a friend the link to this page.

February 2007

February 2007 | Volume 64 | Number 5
Improving Instruction for Students with Learning Needs    Pages 91-93

Parents' Voices

We asked parents of a child with special needs what they would tell teachers about what helps—or hinders—their child's learning.

What the Teacher Should Do

Listen to me when I tell you that my child with dysgraphia is not able to copy all information correctly from the board and needs someone to take the time to write the assignment for him.

Listen to me when I ask you to give him note-taking assistance because his writing is illegible.

Listen to me when I ask you to let him use a tape recorder.

Listen to me when I tell you he is intelligent and if you differentiate his assignments, he can learn just as well as any other student.

What the teacher should not do:

Tell me that my child has to write his assignments because the other students write them.

Tell me that my child just wants to get out of doing assignments.

—Lorna J. Lacina, Natchitoches, Louisiana

My Teenaged Son Is Bipolar

I'd like my child's teachers to know that he lacks focus and organizational skills in great part because of his mood dis-order. He lives so much in the moment that it's hard for him to set longer-term goals. He has difficulty getting from one class to the next on time, completing assignments, and remembering to bring books to class. I know this can be frustrating. It's frustrating for me.

Because he's overly sensitive to what's going on around him, my son may be easily distracted in class. He needs extra time on tests and a quiet space in which to take them. He may also need to leave the classroom to see the school counselor in times of stress. And he may have trouble staying focused in class because of his medication. Please, please let me know if he's sleepy in class or if he's not turning in assignments so I can work with him to get these things done.

My child may sometimes say or do things that make him difficult to like. But giving him definite deadlines, clear short instructions, specific short-term goals, and a quiet work space will help alleviate some of this difficult behavior.

Despite these issues, my son is bright, has great analytical skills, is witty, and can write. “I've measured myself against many opponents,” he wrote in a recent essay about boxing, “but the toughest of all is myself.”

—a parent, Virginia

David Has Down Syndrome

David is mildly/moderately mentally retarded, and, as a 7-year-old, he may be functioning at a 3-year-old level in most areas of development. Is this all you need to know to effectively teach David reading, writing, and arithmetic? No!

The labels don't say that David's receptive language is more advanced than his expressive language. David has experienced so much failure in education settings that he doesn't want to try anymore (leading teachers to believe he is less able than he really is). The labels leave out that David learns best by doing—through action and movement, not desk work. When David is not progressing in learning, he needs teachers to step back, give him a week off, and come back to it. He'll surprise you every time.

—Alicia Sigmon, Bowling Green, Virginia

A Missed Opportunity

My 4th grade son recently came home with Frindle, a book he was reading in class. After telling me about it, he added, “But we weren't supposed to bring it home.” Max has been diagnosed with ADHD or, as Ned Hallowell calls ADHD, “an amazing brain with a Ferrari engine and Chevrolet brakes.” Max had begun the book on Friday, got really involved in it, and just couldn't wait until Monday to learn what happened next.

I e-mailed the teacher, just to let her know. Her response was chilly: “I made it clear that the book was to be read in class. Students can't make predictions of what will happen next if they've already read the book!” I tried to explain that he didn't mean to disobey, that his desire to read the book (the Ferrari engine) apparently outweighed his obligation to respect her wishes (the Chevrolet brakes). Could she discuss with Max why she hadn't wanted him to read ahead, just so he would understand? Could he write an alternate ending? This change in strategy would make him responsible for his choices in a productive way and nurture his enthusiasm for reading and learning. Isn't that the goal of education?

The teacher didn't bother to discuss the situation with him on Monday. And she chose not to assign him a different task. All she said was this: “I'm very disappointed!” What a missed opportunity—for all of us.

—a parent, Virginia

Gifted Students with Learning Needs

I wish that teachers and schools understood that many children with learning disabilities are actually gifted. These children, known as “twice exceptional,” may be quite brilliant, but they have learning differences.

My daughter, who has at least five different learning disabilities, is in a wonderful school that understands how to teach gifted children with learning differences. As result, she is thriving and is able to show her academic gifts while being given accommodations for her learning problems.

These children are often able to perform at remarkably high levels if only the educators will listen to parents and look beyond what the textbooks and tests say.

—Charlene Shelton, Denver, Colorado

Read more Parents’ Voices in this bonus Online Only article.

Copyright © 2007 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Contact Us | Copyright Information | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

© 2007 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development