Research: David Flink, an advocate for children with learning challenges, recently posted an article and video based on his book, “Learning Differently.” He argues, “…we must accept that one in five children think differently. It is absurd to admonish children with learning disabilities to ‘simply try harder,’ and detrimental and debilitating to cheerlead them along, without acknowledging that in our current school structure they begin at a deficit.” By approaching learning differences from a deficit perspective, we undermine a child’s potential. The most important thing we can do for them is understand their challenges, teach them the tools and introduce the accommodations to allow them to be successful, and encourage them to advocate for their own needs.
Practice: Flink refers to a need for adults to be “learning detectives” to best serve a child’s needs. In our admissions process we ask our students a lot of questions, probing to get a sense of how they learn best so we can match them with the right teachers. Then the work is transferred to our teachers, who are true learning detectives. They help our students identify what works best, implement any accommodations they need to be successful, and develop tools that they can use for the rest of their lives.