For families supporting a student with a learning difference such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), executive function difficulty (EFD), dyslexia or another nonverbal learning disorder, or auditory processing disorder, the path to identifying and evaluating the available support resources and programs can feel daunting and overwhelming. At The Janus School, our goal is to help families identify the resources and programs that are the best fit for their student’s specific learning needs. Just as every child learns differently, each program takes a different approach to serving the needs of students with learning differences.

Hear Heather Strunk, Director of Academics at The Janus School, discuss the questions families should ask when evaluating a learning difference support program for their child.

#1 – What types of students does the program serve?

When evaluating a learning differences support program, inquire about the types of students served. Some programs help students with specific learning disabilities, while others focus specifically on speech or language impairments, autism, or emotional disturbances. It will be important to find a program that aligns with the child’s specific needs and learning goals. It is also important to assess whether the program takes a cookie-cutter approach or serves student’s needs individually. Each child is different and no one teaching method will work for every child. Therefore, it is important to evaluate how individualized the program is to ensure the student gets the personalized experience they deserve.

#2 – What opportunities/classes are available?

Before deciding on a learning differences support program, it is essential to look into the opportunities offered as part of the program.

  • What classes are offered?
  • Are there opportunities for internships?
  • Is the program focused primarily on academic-based coursework or does it incorporate experiential learning?

Understanding each program’s approach to learning can help determine if it’s a fit for how the child learns and their individual needs. Are there electives and classes that match the child’s interests and passions? For instance, The Janus School provides students the opportunity to explore their interests through a range of offerings such as foreign language classes, art studio courses, robotics, bowling and more. Finding a program that not only aligns with the child’s needs, but that will also help them uncover their passions and grow socially is important.

#3 – How is communication handled?

When helping a student with a learning difference unlock their full potential, communication between all parties involved is critical. When evaluating a learning differences support program, it’s important to understand how communication is handled within the program. Do the teachers collaborate? Is the school counselor aware of the child’s performance in the classroom? Is the school willing to connect with other caregivers, such as the child’s doctor if needed? Having a high level of communication between teachers, advisors, counselors, doctors and the parents creates an environment that supports the whole child.

The Janus School is committed to collaboration in everything we do. Whether internally with teachers, staff and families or externally with outside specialists, ensuring all parties have a clear understanding of the services needed to support the student is critical. We believe true success comes from both inside and outside the classroom.

#4 – How will the student’s plan be developed and measured?

The main purpose of a learning differences support program is to help the child achieves their goals and learn how to thrive in and out of the classroom. In order to do this, they need a plan. As a parent or guardian, it is important to understand how a program develops a student’s plan. Do they use previous school records? Will they conduct their own testing? Will they observe the child in the classroom setting? Who will develop the plan? Having answers to these questions and be given opportunities to share input is critical.

Once a plan in is place and goals have been set for the student, understanding how success toward those goals will be measured is the next step. Will assessments focus on testing? Teacher observations? Individual evaluations? It is also important to know what will be done if the goals are not met. As a child’s biggest supporter and advocate, it is important for parents to understand how the program will measure their growth and accomplishments.

#5 – What is the cost of the program? Is financial aid available?

A learning differences support program can seem like a great option for students who may be struggling in a traditional classroom setting; however, most support programs come at a cost. When evaluating programs, it’s important to compare costs and determine if it is a realistic option. It will also be important to ask about financial aid options.

Many programs provide help to pay for their services. Before getting overwhelmed by the costs, explore financial aid and loan options and speak with the provider about the scholarships and aid available. At Janus, a wide variety of financial aid support is available to help families remove cost barriers.

At The Janus School, the only independent K-12 day school in Central Pennsylvania dedicated to the needs of students with learning differences, we are here to answer questions, offer support and help families get connected to the information and resources they need to make an informed decision regarding learning differences support programs.

We believe guiding families to the right path can be life changing. Not all great minds think alike, and empowering students with the right tools, techniques and personal support can unlock their gifts and potential in the classroom and in life.

If you believe your child may be struggling with a learning disability or difference, get in touch. Our team can help connect you with the resources and support to take the next positive step for your child and family.

Just as every child learns differently, each program takes a different approach to serving the needs of students with learning differences. Finding a program that best fits means asking the right questions.

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