Enter a room filled with ten children and it soon becomes obvious how unique each child is. Children display differences in personality, temperament, likes and dislikes, and so on, all of which are evident while watching them play and interact with one another. But another noteworthy difference that may not be apparent during social interaction, but is significant nonetheless, is that of learning differences and styles. Often times these differences are pronounced and cannot be accommodated by teachers in a public school or large group setting. Unfortunately, these children may be misunderstood, fall behind, become bored, or not achieve to their fullest potential. Furthermore, particular student populations have specific learning profiles or patterns of learning strengths and weaknesses. Think of the great benefit if teaching could “fit” the student profile instead of making the student fit the teaching curriculum. Customized Instruction provides a solution for these one-of-a-kind children. Let’s preview 2 such unique student groups and look at their learning profiles.
The Gifted Student
Gifted children usually score within the superior range on an IQ test, although some students are gifted in a particular area; their development in other areas may be average, decreasing the overall score. Here are some general characteristics of a gifted child:
- Excellent problem-solving ability and reasoning capabilities.
- More curious intellectually than typical children and make inquiries revealing a depth of understanding.
- Is significantly superior in “quality or quantity of written and/or spoken vocabulary.”
- Reads and absorbs a vast amount of high-level books.
- Able to maintain concentration for extended periods of time for age.
- Creative ability.
- Learns and retains information quickly.
- Understands math concepts – not just how to solve the problem.
Additionally, gifted children are, what’s termed, Visual Spatial Learners (VSL). A visual spatial learner has a different brain set-up which requires a different approach to teaching. These students see the whole picture in their minds instead of the parts of the whole. They do not see the steps of a problem but go right to the solution, when the light bulb turns on. They tend to learn new material and concepts “all at once” and permanently. Thus, they have no need for the repetition and drill which is common in a typical classroom. It’s no wonder these students can become easily bored with traditional means.
The gifted child is not without his/her weaknesses, too. One such area that is a challenge for gifted children is organization and staying focused on time parameters. These students tend to be unconscious of time.
The Asperger’s Syndrome Student
Asperger’s syndrome, or what is now termed as high-functioning autism, presents a unique individual with strengths that are sometimes in the above average, even superior range, coupled with challenging weaknesses. Children with Asperger’s have very similar WISC test patterns. Here are some of the findings:
- Asperger children score significantly higher on the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) than they do on the Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI).
- Asperger children score lower on the Processing Speed Index (PSI) and the Working Memory Index (WMI) than do typical children.
- The WISC test results for Asperger children reveal large point differences between the four testing categories, whereas typical children have a more even score across all tests. This indicates the brain is very highly developed in key areas to the exclusion of other areas.
- Significant strength is shown on the vocabulary sub-test.
- Weakness is indicated on the coding portion of the sub-test. The coding test measures “processing speed, short-term visual memory, learning ability, psychomotor speed, visual perception, visual-motor coordination, and visual scanning ability.”
In addition to similarities on the WISC test, Asperger children struggle processing information that is in-coming. The way in which their brain receives, manipulates, stores, and utilizes information is different from neurotypically developing children. They have strengths in their visual processing skills but are weak in their ability to convert information auditorilly. Because of their strong visual skills, learning takes place best by implementing graphics, color-coding, high-lighting, using images, and so on.
Customized instruction for either of these student populations would greatly accelerate their learning progress. By targeting those areas the students are weak in for additional tutoring and pushing the limits of their strengths so that they do not become bored, they will receive an exceptional education.
At Tenney School we are staffed to accommodate children one on one, providing a personalized curriculum and instructional model for each child. Children are thereby intellectually stimulated to excel and grow. Each child is unique, and each child deserves customized instruction. If you would like to discuss our program further or have any additional questions, please contact us today!