How to Encourage Independence in Learning Disabled Students

As a parent or teacher of a learning-disabled student, you may wonder how you can encourage your child to be independent. Independence is an important life skill that can help your child achieve success and happiness as they grow up.

 Independence can be a little different for every child. Your support is essential. Recognize each child's unique strengths and abilities and encourage them to work towards their goals. With patience, persistence, and a positive attitude, you can help your child develop the skills they need.

Effective strategies for encouraging independence in students with learning differences can include providing support and encouragement in the following ways:

·         Enrolling your child in a private school for learning disabilities

·         Establishing a routine

·         Prioritizing life and work skills

·         Encouraging students with learning differences to ask for help.

Let's Explore Tips, and Tricks Teachers and Caregivers Can Implement to Promote Independence in Learning Disabled Children 

Promoting independence in learning-disabled children is an essential goal for teachers and caregivers. Becoming more self-sufficient can give them confidence in their abilities. As a parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with learning disabilities, knowing when to allow a child to "muddle through" and when you should step in, and help can be challenging.

It is important to recognize that while helping can seem like kindness, it can interfere with a child’s autonomy and sense of mastery. Provide opportunities for your child to practice independence: Encourage them to take on tasks they can manage, such as choosing their clothes, making their bed, or preparing a simple meal. Provide guidance and support as needed While allowing them to take ownership of the task.

Parents and Teachers Should Provide Support Rather than Control 

It is natural for parents and teachers to help children when they are struggling, but interfering with their attempts at independence can actually cause them harm and prevent growth. Resist the temptation to control or direct their actions – at least until they have had a chance to try on their own. Instead, caregivers should provide support and guidance. Listen to the child, provide constructive feedback, and give them the space to make their own decisions.

Promote Self-Advocacy

Help the child develop self-advocacy skills, such as how to ask for help or accommodations when needed. Teach them to communicate their needs clearly and effectively and give them tools and resources to self-assist. Encourage your child to speak up for themselves when they need help or support. Assure them you are available to answer questions or offer support.

Set Realistic Expectations

When a child has a learning disability, there can be a tendency for the adults in their lives to have no expectations for them or expectations that do not align with their abilities. Setting realistic expectations for your child can help them develop the skills needed to become more independent.

Discuss what they are expected to do, how they should behave, and the consequences of not meeting expectations. Consistency is key, as it helps the child understand what is expected of them and what they can expect in return.

Encourage Problem-Solving

Encouraging problem-solving skills can help the child become more independent. Present the child with problems or challenges and ask them to come up with solutions or strategies to solve them. Encourage them to think through a problem and come up with a solution. Start with small problems and work up to more complex ones.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be helpful for children with learning disabilities. They can provide a clear and concise representation of information. Examples of visual aids include graphic organizers, charts, and diagrams.

Break Tasks Into Smaller Steps

For children with learning disabilities, tasks can often feel overwhelming. Breaking tasks down into smaller steps can make them more manageable and help the child feel more confident in their ability to complete them.

Enroll the Child in a Private School for Learning Disabilities 

Enrolling your child in a private school for learning disabilities can have a positive impact on their growth and development. Living away from home can help them build confidence and independence. Additionally, private schools for learning disabilities often provide specialized instruction and support that can be difficult to find in a traditional school setting.

Boarding schools allow children with learning difficulties to engage with others like them, enabling them to learn and form bonds without feeling different, which they may in a conventional school. Classroom interactions are helpful, but so are social activities, such as sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities.

Caregivers Should Establish a Routine 

Routines for students with learning differences can be instrumental to their success. With routines in place, children know what to expect. They can also help adults ensure the child is not overscheduled or overwhelmed. Structured routines are helpful for any child but essential for those with learning disabilities.

Students with language-based learning disorders such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, CAPD (central auditory processing disorder), dyscalculia, or dysgraphia, may need help building extra time into their schedule to accomplish tasks with minimal stress. Those with ADHD and/or executive function difficulties need routines to know what needs to get done, when it needs to be done and how they should do it. 

Expect Some Resistance

Many children (and sometimes adults!) resist routines and schedules, but they pay off in the long run. Include the child in the planning process to ensure they feel they have some control. Be sure to build in some fun and some downtime.

Routines are Worth the Effort

They help children feel more secure and can reduce anxiety. Routines should be followed at home and school to ensure consistency. Flexibility and adaptability are essential when working with children with learning disabilities. Adjust your expectations or provide alternative methods for completing tasks if necessary.

Life and Work Skills Should Be Prioritized at Home and School 

For a child to learn true independence, schoolwork isn't enough. Spending time on life and work skills can help give children with learning disabilities a sense of mastery and accomplishment. Many skills discussed here, such as solving problems and creating routines, are lifelong skills and play an essential part in the daily lives of successful adults.

Additional skills to master include learning to manage their finances, cook meals, and clean their living space. By prioritizing these skills, parents and teachers can help prepare them for a successful and independent future.

Encourage Students with Learning Differences to Ask for Help 

Be sure your student with learning difficulties knows independence doesn’t mean they are not allowed to ask for help. Learning disabled students may sometimes feel overwhelmed, and it is vital to encourage them to ask for help. Parents and teachers can help reduce frustration by creating a safe space for them to ask for assistance. Keep lines of communication open and ask what questions they may have.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator for children with learning disabilities. Praising the child for their efforts and successes can help build their confidence and encourage them to continue working towards their goals.

Celebrate Successes

Celebrate your child's successes, no matter how small they may seem. Praising their efforts can boost their confidence and motivate them to continue working towards their goals.

Seek Support for Yourself

As a parent of a student with learning differences, it's essential to seek support from professionals, such as therapists or educators. They can offer guidance and resources to help you encourage your child's independence.

Reach out to The Gow School: Learning Disabilities School in New York to Help Make Your Learning-Disabled Students Become More Independent 

The Gow School is a boarding school for learning disabilities in NY that was established in 1926. We are a co-ed college-prep boarding and day school for students, grades 6 through 12, with language-based learning disabilities, ADHD, executive function disorder and other learning difficulties.

Our approach to learning differences encourages independence and helps students develop the skills and confidence to succeed in higher education and beyond as creative and compassionate adults and engaged citizens.

Reach Out to The Gow School Today

We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about what makes Gow stand out among learning disabilities schools in NY. Contact us today to learn how we help students become successful, happy and independent today and when they become adults.