What is learning support?
Learning support can mean different things to different people but in my case learning support means supporting children with identified learning difficulties at mainstream international school. This can mean one-to-one and small group support either in the classroom or in a nearby room.
What are learning difficulties?
Children with learning difficulties will normally be outside the norms for any given grade level in one or more areas. For example they may be a year or more behind their actual age in reading. It may be that with support they will ‘catch up’ and no longer need support. Other children may have underlying issues that may be making it more difficult for them to perform at school. These children have been assessed by an Educational Psychologist or Occupational Therapist so that their needs can be identified. These children will normally have an Individual Learning Plan or Individual Education Plan that includes their goals and accommodations that will be made to enable the child to meet their goals.
Learning difficulties may result from any number of factors and common learning difficulties include attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), dyslexia, executive function and cognitive problems, sensory issues, and autism spectrum conditions. Some children will be diagnosed with learning difficulties that are ‘mild’ or even ‘moderate’.
In an international school there will be many children for whom English is a second language. Children may receive English as an Additional Language (EAL) support. This is separate from Learning Support as children will be expected to exit this program as they learn English. Sometimes being a second language learner may mask underlying problems, that will only become apparent over time.
The aim of a Learning Support is to give all children meaningful and equitable access to the curriculum and to increase learning and participation by identifying and removing barriers to their learning. Attention is given to meeting the individual needs of children.
Learning support can include specialist services such as Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy,