Teach and Observe: Identifying the Learning Styles of Students

All students are unique, and so are teachers. There is no single teaching strategy that works perfectly for every kind of learning environment. This is why educators are required to be flexible, to be adaptive for the welfare of new learners.

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To become efficient in the classroom, teachers should first understand the different learning styles of students. According to renowned educator Neil Flemming, there are four learning styles:

1. Visual – Visual learners prefer to see materials in order to absorb the lessons. They like to study graphs, charts, diagrams, and pictures. They are very detail-oriented and organized. Writing out directions is a good way to teach visual learners. Using color codes to organize information also helps them in memorizing data.

2. Auditory – Auditory learners learn best when they are listening and speaking. Since they understand concepts by discussing them, auditory learners are often more talkative than the average student. Word games are effective teaching materials for them. Having them read textbooks aloud or give oral reports are also effective in instilling lessons.

3. Reading/Writing – Similar to visual learners, read/write learners struggle with verbal directions. They prefer to learn by reading books and handouts, taking notes, and making lists. Providing these students with well-organized, written material is the best way to teach them. Encouraging a quiet environment also helps read/write learners comprehend the lessons easier.

4. Kinesthetic – Kinesthetic learners learn best when they do things and when they move around. Teachers can encourage these students to do science experiments, act out plays, or draw or craft stuff to make concepts more comprehensible. Games and projects are also effective tools to teach kinesthetic learners.

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Educators can use these four types as a guide for preparing teaching materials for students. They should remember, however, that most students do not fall exclusively into one category. They may have a secondary learning style or maybe their various traits also apply to categories other than their main learning style.

David Ostrer discovered his passion for teaching at an early age. When he was still in high school, he volunteered at a summer camp to assist special students. That moment sparked his interest for education. Catch updates on teaching and college planning by visiting this Twitter feed.

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Effective Classroom Management: Dealing with Difficult Students

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There’s one (or several) in every class: Difficult students who refuse to play by classroom rules, are argumentative, noisy and disruptive, or just too preoccupied with their smartphones to pay attention in class.

Dealing with difficult students can be frustrating, and teachers are always tempted to revert to old-fashioned and ineffective ways to manage the class, such as ignoring their behavior, making them leave the room, or scolding them in front of their peers.

However, there are more positive and effective ways to instill discipline in a difficult student. The following are some of these techniques:

Set clear expectations
Teachers should set aside a period of time to work with their students on establishing guidelines for appropriate classroom behavior. Students tend to follow the rules more if the latter are based not just on what their teachers want, but on what their classmates expect from them.

Avoid arguments
Even though a student is being purposely argumentative, teachers should not take the bait as this leads to resentment. In addition, it weakens a teacher’s relationship with his or her student and encourages other students to challenge his or her authority. Instead, reference the classroom rules (which should contain a guideline about arguments and respectful communication) and give the student a warning. If the student attempts to argue further, repeat the warning as a reminder of the consequences of his or her actions.

Do not yell or publicly humiliate the student
Some teachers yell or otherwise humiliate difficult students in front of their peers as a form of punishment and to strong-arm the student to behave. However, this tactic could actually do a lot more harm than good. It leads to resentment and anger on the student’s end, and reduced likability on the part of the teacher. More importantly, shaming students can have powerful repercussions later in life: Studies suggest that this type of punishment leads to lasting psychological damage.

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Image source: seattlefoundation.org

Instead, teachers should follow their classroom management plan in choosing an appropriate consequence for the student’s misbehavior and speak to the student privately instead of in front of the class.

To be truly effective at managing a classroom, difficult students and all, teachers must be respectful of their charges, should communicate strongly yet fairly, and have the ability to foster an open, trusting, and respectful classroom atmosphere.

For more discussions on classroom management, follow this David Ostrer Twitter account.

Regular vs. private: Choosing the right school for children with special needs

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Parents of special needs children are often faced with the question of whether to enroll their child in a specialized or regular institution. While each offers a unique benefits, special needs educational advisors generally recommend the following considerations to inform choice:

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The type and severity of the condition: There are many forms of disabilities and each has to be addressed differently. Some students might need highly specialized instruction such as sign language interpretation or occupational therapy. Others might do well with minor tutoring at home. Determining the form of instruction is highly dependent on what the child has, how he or she can manage with basic instruction, and the level of social communication with which the child can keep up. The last factor, perhaps, is the most controversial. Regular schooling might not be ideal for children with anxiety or social disorders, as this increases the probability of bullying, miscommunication, or even poor instruction.

Home factors: In general, private and specialized institutions are suggested for students with special needs. However, these facilities are typically more expensive than public schools. Research has shown that most families with special needs children come from the low-income families, who find the cost of education more challenging and often enroll their children in a public school.

Educational institutions must recognize that special needs child have individual needs and may or may not respond well to traditional educational practices. Parents are also encouraged to determine appropriateness of schooling individually and on a per case basis.

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For many years, David Ostrer, an education consultant, has helped parents choose the correct school for their special needs children. Find out more about education by following this Twitter account.

Books are fun! Tips on motivating children to read for pleasure

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Reading is not only enjoyable, but it also has the power to boost a child’s learning potential. Research findings published in Perspectives on Psychological Science concluded that reading to children in an interactive manner can raise their IQ by over six points. Another study published in the journal Science suggests that reading also raises emotional intelligence (EQ) and increases empathy.

However, not every child loves to read. The following are some ways one can teach a child to read for pleasure and reap the cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of doing so.

Start young

Reading aloud helps form an emotional bond between parent and child. It will also help children associate the act of reading with good memories. Such association will help the child develop a positive attitude towards reading as he grows older.

Start small

Children shouldn’t be expected to read full-length novels and automatically enjoy them. Storybooks with pictures, magazines, and graphic novels can help gently introduce a child to the world of reading. Funny stories also help dispel the notion that reading is “too serious” and “not fun.”

Make it a habit

Parents should try and set aside time specifically for reading each day. This can be any time that suits the parent and the child, such as after class, after homework is finished, or right before bedtime.

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Be a role model

Parents should practice what they preach and show their children that they, too, love to read and derive enjoyment from it. Families can also try discussing favorite books at dinner time, going to the library together, and helping each other pick out books.

No pushing

Pressuring a child to read will only make her less likely to pick up a book. Nagging and setting unrealistic goals will only make her resent the parent. Adults should gently encourage reading in other ways, such as providing books and reading materials on subjects that the child finds interesting.

In addition, school libraries are great sources of age-appropriate and entertaining books. Encourage children to ask for recommendations from their school librarian and take home books.

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Studies have found that there is a strong correlation between reading and academic excellence. Parents who want their children to achieve academic success should encourage their children to read, not just for their studies, but for fun.

David Ostrer works as an educational consultant. Subscribe to this blog for more related discussions.

An introduction to special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

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Special Education refers to services offered to students with learning disabilities. These students need special modifications to their educational programs to suit their unique capabilities and learning pace. They could be given remedial classes, a differently paced curriculum, or adaptations to their workload as determined by teachers, parents, and physicians working together and developing an Individualized Education Program or IEP.

To ensure that special needs children receive free, appropriate education just like any other child, the government created the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law, created in 1975, mandates that the proper authorities provide intervention, special education, and any related services to children with disabilities. IDEA has been revised several times since 1975, with the latest revisions and amendments undertaken in August 2006 to include related pieces of legislation like the No Child Left Behind Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

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IDEA is divided into four parts, as detailed by the American Psychological Association:

Part A – Basic foundation of the Act; it includes the definition of terms, general provisions, Congress findings and the purpose of the Act.

Part B – Educational guidelines for students aged 3 to 21 years old, as well as provisions for schools on what to do to receive financial support from the government. This also includes parent and student rights.

Part C – Early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities. This part explains what states have to do to assist younger children (from birth to 2 years old) with developmental delays and their families.

Part D – National activities to improve the education of children with disabilities. Examples of these activities are seminars for parents, training for teachers, and grants to improve education.

Through proper support from the government, educational institutions, and his or her family, a child with learning disability can cope with the challenges to learning, change his or her capacity to take on education, and lead a happy life.

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For more topics about special education, follow this David Ostrer Twitter page.

Setting a solid foundation for a child’s future

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Parents only want the best for their child. That is why choosing a school can be a difficult decision to make for many parents. As educational institutions, schools provide young people with many opportunities to learn valuable skills that will help them later in life. Selecting a school that encourages a child to embrace learning, therefore, goes a long way in helping that child to develop to the fullest.

To make that choice, parents should first consider their child’s skills, talents, and needs. Factoring in what makes the child unique as an individual is essential to determining what type of learning environment is best for him or her.

With a child’s learning capabilities and needs in mind, parents can then gather information about available school options. From reading about the school’s curriculum to observing how its teachers work with the kids, parents can narrow down their choices to a select few and, eventually, pick the one that they feel is the best fit for their child.

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Parents, after researching school options, have to begin the process of applying to the institution as early as possible. Different schools have different admissions processes, and the child may need to be interviewed or tested. Parents will also have to consider applying to more than one school in case the child is not admitted to their first choice.

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David Ostrer works with families to find a school that meets and exceeds the needs of children with particular educational profiles. For more articles on choosing the right school for one’s child, follow this Google+ page.