If you have a 2e student, you already know that the struggle is very real. Learning to balance the demands of a learning disability alongside the needs of an advanced learner is an ongoing, lifelong process. By getting your child the help they need in the classroom, however, you can improve their odds of success and increase their ability to learn successfully in the classroom environment as well as encouraging lifelong learning skills that will carry them well beyond their academic years.
What is a 2e Student?
A 2e, or “twice exceptional,” student is one who is both gifted academically and possessed of a learning disability. Many people–including both parents and educators–continue to believe that if a child is a gifted learner, this should outweigh any learning disabilities or attention problems. Unfortunately, many gifted students continue to struggle with these key issues. In the right classroom setting and with the proper interventions, however, these students can reach their full potential.
Characteristics of 2e Learners
2e learners have a number of characteristics that make them unique. Addressing those characteristics may make it easier to better serve those students in the classroom environment.
2e learners have a deep or profound understanding of at least one subject. A 2e learner may, for example, excel at math or be able to converse about literature on a very high level, depending on where the area of their giftedness lies.
2e learners may lack–or struggle to understand–basic principles in areas unrelated to their giftedness. They need careful instruction in these areas, whether this means time management or specific core curriculum information, in order to reach their full potential.
2e learners aren’t “lazy” or “disinterested.” They’re unable to overcome the deficits in their ability to learn by simply “trying harder“–a distinction that needs to be made by the parents and teachers who are working with them. Careful accommodation for their deficits, on the other hand, will allow them to excel.
2e students are often overlooked. Many schools fail to identify 2e learners, choosing instead to focus on either the child’s disability or their giftedness. These students, however, are eligible for IEPs and 504 plans and should be receiving the same support in the classroom that they would receive if they weren’t gifted.
Adapting Instruction for 2e Learners
Specific adaptations–including those named in IEPs and 504 plans–will depend on your child’s unique needs and the areas in which they are gifted. Some common adaptations for 2e learners, however, include:
Seating the student near the teacher or away from other distractions in the classroom to help reduce attention issues.
Providing notes to help students catch up if they struggle to pay attention during lectures.
Using a planner or digital device to keep track of assignments.
More frequent communications with the parent in order to ensure that the child’s needs are being met and that they’re keeping up with assignments. Communicating regularly with the parents will also ensure that they’re aware of any problems before they become more serious issues.
Offering written instructions, especially for multi-step assignments. Providing checklists for larger projects can also help keep disorganized students on track.
Collecting assignments daily, rather than allowing assignments to stack up over several days or weeks before asking that they are turned in.
Permitting students to choose their own work locations as long as they aren’t distracting to others. This may mean something as simple as working in the floor or sitting on a ball during class, or it may mean allowing students to leave the room with an assistant to work on projects or take a test or quiz.
Providing alternative assignments to help retain student interest, especially if they’re bored with a specific type of project or area of instruction due to its simplicity. Offering alternative assignments will help keep the student engaged. Note that these assignments should still follow the general flow of the curriculum.
Providing individualized instruction, both in areas where the student is strong and areas in which they struggle.
Providing alternative assessment methods, particularly for students who struggle with tests and quizzes. This may include offering verbal tests and quizzes instead of having the student write information out or using a project to assess student learning instead of a test.
Limiting homework. Homework is rarely helpful for most students, especially gifted learners. By limiting homework, you allow your 2e student to take their downtime to relax.
Offering help with transitions. Offer warnings before it will be time to move on to the next activity. This is particularly beneficial for 2e students who find it difficult to put down a personal project or something they enjoy to move on to the next activity.
Tracking the need for help privately, rather than requiring a 2e student–who may be embarrassed to ask for help, especially since they know their peers perceive them as “smart”–to raise their hand or admit they are struggling in the classroom.
There’s no perfect strategy that will work to help every student excel–especially twice exceptional learners, who are both gifted and struggling to work around learning disabilities. By customizing your adaptations to your student’s specific needs, however, you can create a better educational environment. Need a school that will help make that happen? Contact us today to learn more about our quality, personalized education programs and how they can benefit your student.