Over the past several years, people who specialize in education have been doing more and more research into the various ways that people learn new information. Some people are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some are tactile learners. It seems as though for almost every sense we have, there is a learning style that relies upon it for retaining new material. Of course, when you have a classroom filled to capacity with thirty children and one teacher, it isn’t always possible to accommodate all these styles and methods for every single lesson taught.
Some schools are hiring professionals who specialize in differentiated learning in order to help students who are falling behind or struggling with material in their classrooms. Unfortunately, not all schools have the funds needed to pay another salary even if the support is needed.
Naturally, differentiation helps students with learning disabilities and challenges. However, it is also important for gifted students who may find regular instruction boring and repetitive. As the parent of a gifted child, I know how important It is for her to be given increasingly difficult materials even if the rest of her class isn’t ready for them. Sending her to a school that bores her will only result in her hating school and feeling put off by education, and the last thing I want is for her potential to be squandered because she isn’t getting the treatment she deserves.
I’ve found that some of the best schools, like the one my daughter attends, use both technology and independent projects to help students on both ends of the spectrum to be successful, challenge themselves, and work on a level that actually benefits them intellectually. They also allow the students to select their own books for reading studies and encourage them to do the best writing they can in a language arts workshop rather than expecting everyone in the class to write at the same level.
When it comes to math, gifted students can work online or be sent to study with children in a higher grade so that they are not feeling bored or wasting time in a class with kids who just aren’t catching on as fast.
I would love to see more schools implementing proper differentiated instruction and support for gifted students and for learning disabled ones. All of our kids deserve the absolute best the education system can offer them!