As we know, all students do not learn new information the exact same way. Each learner is complex and unique; therefore structuring the teaching of new material can be a challenge for teachers to “get through” to every student in class. Many classroom teachers don’t have the training, much less the resources available to provide a variety of methods for learning for the students in their classes. This lack of variety makes it particularly challenging for students with any type of learning disability. Many students with LD use tutors as support for learning new material, reinforcing academics, and acquiring skills.
Understanding how a particular student learns is the first step to providing more effective approaches to helping that student learn and store new information, as well as use new skills. Providing the multi-sensory approaches to facilitate learning would be the obvious next step. We use the term “multi-sensory” to encompass aural, visual, verbal, and kinesthetic input. For students with LD, combining teaching approaches is often recommended. Along with tailoring to these “senses,” incorporating “give and take” where a discussion of the ideas is used, in teaching new information or reinforcing learned material becomes important. Often through “give and take” sessions, students begin to “own” not only the ideas being discussed, but the process of acquiring new information, and begin to relate to the subject at hand more completely. According to research, this brain-based approach facilitates learning, and it helps to build new neural networks. Learning new information or skills, and integrating into long term memory is achieved more successfully.
Students with LD often have challenges with transferring information from short-term – working memory – to long-term memory. Many times this means that a student will not be able to hold onto information long enough to practice it and facilitate the growth of more permanent knowledge. Students who are able to practice learned information are able to strengthen new neural pathways, and therefore, are able to recall stored learned information. Using multiple modes of learning allows for students to embrace the process of learning, and, perhaps, enjoy it.