In the diverse landscape of education, it's crucial to recognize that each student is unique, with their own set of strengths and challenges. For neurodivergent students, navigating the educational journey can be particularly complex. Understanding their needs, providing the right support, and fostering an environment where they feel safe and encouraged to thrive are of utmost importance.
Our very own Jessica was interviewed on Steph West’s Social Skills Unscripted Podcast. During the interview, Jessica discusses supporting struggling learners, closing large academic gaps, and helping neurodivergent students. To hear Jessica’s thoughts and tips, be sure to check out this interview on Spotify!
What is a neurodivergent student?
A neurodivergent student is an individual whose neurological development and functioning differ from what is considered typical or neurotypical. The concept of neurodiversity celebrates and acknowledges the natural variation in neurological traits and conditions, emphasizing that these differences should be respected and valued.
Various conditions can qualify as neurodivergent, including but not limited to:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Sensory Processing Disorders
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anxiety and Mood Disorders
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
It's important to recognize that neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of conditions, each with its unique characteristics and challenges. Neurodivergent individuals often bring valuable perspectives and talents to society, and embracing neurodiversity promotes inclusivity and understanding in education and beyond.
Asking for Help is a Learned Skill
Self-advocacy and asking for help are often overlooked or forgotten; however, these skills need to be taught and practiced, just like recognizing letters and memorizing math facts. Being able to effectively and appropriately ask for help can greatly impact student well-being and success. Overall, it is essential that learners see the ability to ask for help not as a sign of weakness but rather as a sign of effective problem-solving and intelligence!
Why Asking for Help Matters
Neurodiverse students, just like their peers, sometimes struggle to identify their specific needs. They might find it challenging to articulate what pieces they don't understand, which can lead to increased frustration and, ultimately, lower academic success.
At The Learning Room, we view being able to ask for help as a fundamental life skill and encourage our students to practice this early and often. We demystify the notion that seeking assistance reflects inadequacy and, instead, emphasize that it is a sign of intelligence to recognize when you need help. It is important for kids to practice these skills outside of school so they can be effective problem solvers during the school day. You can do the same thing at home by:
Model Asking for Help
Parents should openly and comfortably demonstrate asking for help in their daily lives. Whether it's asking a colleague for assistance at work, seeking guidance from a friend, or even admitting when they're uncertain about something, children will learn that everyone, including adults, requires help at times.
Asking for help is a learned skill often overlooked. We see it as fundamental, and our coaches provide tangible examples and scripts to reduce anxiety around seeking help in an academic setting. We view asking for help not as a sign of weakness but as a sign of effective problem-solving and intelligence.
Neurodiverse students, like their peers, may struggle to identify their specific needs. This can lead to increased frustration and lower academic success. At The Learning Room, we believe asking for help is a fundamental life skill. We encourage students to practice it early and often, creating an environment where seeking assistance is seen as a positive and courageous action.
In the journey of learning and growing, it's essential to teach your child that making mistakes is a natural part of the process. At The Learning Room, we emphasize normalizing mistakes at home to instill a growth mindset that travels seamlessly to school with your learner. We believe that when students recognize their abilities can develop through perseverance and hard work, and it fosters resilience and a willingness to embrace academic challenges during our sessions. So, when your child encounters a challenge or makes a mistake, our approach encourages analyzing the situation, asking questions, and seeking help to find effective solutions. It's a positive and empowering way to navigate the learning process and build a foundation for future success.
Create an Open Communication Environment
Establish a safe space for your child to express their thoughts and feelings. Encourage them to share their concerns, confusion, or frustrations without fear of judgment. Listen actively, validate their emotions, and reassure them that asking for help is a positive and courageous action.
Fostering an open communication environment is crucial for your child's well-being. At The Learning Room, we promote the establishment of a safe space at home where your child can freely express thoughts and feelings. Our approach involves encouraging a team mentality within our sessions, considering the student, family, and academic coach as part of the same team. Together, we share a common goal: helping each learner unlock their power and potential. This collaborative effort extends beyond academics; we actively model and encourage open communication with our students and their families. Doing so creates an atmosphere where concerns, confusion, or frustrations can be shared without fear of judgment. This supports academic growth and contributes to your child's overall positive and courageous learning experience.
Celebrate Asking for Help
Praise your child when they demonstrate the courage to ask for assistance. Highlight how seeking help is a sign of maturity and intelligence. Celebrating their efforts reinforces the idea that asking for help is a valuable skill.
Embracing and celebrating the act of asking for help is a key component of supporting your child's growth. At The Learning Room, we recognize the importance of praising your child when they demonstrate the courage to seek assistance. We believe that celebrating these efforts is a way to highlight not only their maturity but also their intelligence. Our approach revolves around creating processes for learning, where we consistently integrate celebrations of students' successes throughout session time. By doing so, we aim to instill in students the understanding that asking for help is accepted and expected as a valuable and integral part of the learning journey. This positive reinforcement contributes to a learning environment where your child feels empowered and encouraged to reach out when needed.
Solve Problems Together
When your child faces a challenge, work through the issue together. Brainstorm solutions, break the problem into manageable steps, and emphasize the importance of collaboration. By actively engaging in the problem-solving process, you show that asking for help is an effective way to overcome obstacles.
Problem-solving together is another aspect we emphasize. Our coaching sessions focus on celebrating learning, not just grades, and provide encouragement and support to navigate challenges. The journey of a neurodivergent student may not always be easy, but it's filled with potential and growth.