Learning disabilities affect a person's ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, or do mathematical calculations. While a child may have some of these differences at a young age, many children are not diagnosed until grade 1 or after. No need to wait for that diagnosis. Here are some good suggestions to try with the whole group:
- In your group, avoid putting an individual child in the spotlight. For instance, rather than asking each child to recite memory work, call on small groups of varying ability to say it together. Pair up children to help each other on tasks that may prove difficult for one of them alone.
- Allow plenty of time for a child with a learning disability to respond to a question and provide visual prompts if necessary. Use contrasting backgrounds to display visuals. Avoid distracting background noise. Repeat directions and memory work often and in short sections.
- For younger children, provide individual help with tasks that require eye-hand coordination; use large crayons and markers for drawing. Guide the child during physical activities. Use bags to organize the child's take-home papers and any other projects.
- For older children, it's also helpful to break tasks into smaller steps. Repeat directions or write them on a board. Provide reading markers (note cards, bookmarks, or rulers) to focus on the text, and let the child read along while listening to an audio version of the story. Introduce the key points of a story and repeat these points during the summary time. Offer a choice of activities.
- For more ideas, check out Learning Disabilities and the Church by Cynthia Holder Rich and Martha Ross-Mockaitis. This brief and practical manual helps churches better serve youth and children with learning disabilities and attention disorders.