Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities

Teacher working closely with young studentResearch continues to confirm that we can teach students with learning disabilities to “learn how to learn.” We can put them into a position to compete and hold their own.

Some intervention practices that produce large outcomes are:

  • direct instruction;
  • learning strategy instruction; and
  • using a sequential, simultaneous structured multi-sensory approach.

Teachers who apply those kinds of intervention:

  • break learning into small steps;
  • administer probes;
  • supply regular, quality feedback;
  • use diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they say in words;
  • provide ample independent, well-designed intensive practice;
  • model instructional practices that they want students to follow;
  • provide prompts of strategies to use; and
  • engage students in process type questions like “How is the strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”

Scaffolding is also something that seems to make a real difference. Start out with the teacher using heavily mediated instruction, known as explicit instruction, then slowly begin to let the students acquire the skill, moving towards the goal of student mediated instruction.

Success for the student with learning disabilities requires a focus on individual achievement, individual progress, and individual learning. This requires specific, directed, individualized, intensive remedial instruction for students who are struggling.

Whether the student is in the general education classroom or learning in a special class setting, focus the activities on assessing individual students to monitor their progress through the curriculum. Concerns for the individual must take precedence over concerns for the group or the curriculum or for the organization and management of the general education classroom content.

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  1. I would appreciate any suggestions on writing programs that could help children with low muscle tone learn to write better, retain how to draw letters and help in memory in general but specifically how to remember how to draw letters.
    I appreciate the suggestion for the reading program posted above -Barbara Wilson Reading program. I am looking forward to finding out more about it and trying it out.
    I have two children with DS and they are both eager to learn and enjoy learning. Currently we do repetition, cue cards and loads of tracing and cue points on paper. I am struggling with retention of how to draw letters.

  2. Soobaseenee Jory says

    I am Priya a Mauritian primary school teacher. I try my best to cater to each and every child of my class but I must say that it is very difficult.I teach a class of 38 pupils with different level of learning abilities. I have problems with about 8 pupils. They cannot follow the class as the other pupils. I encourage them to participate in the class especially during the oral part but for the written part it`s very difficult.Even if I try very hard I cannot give them the individual attention that they need to progress and I feel guilty and helpless. I have read that you said that we should not concentrate on the curriculum but that is not possible with 30 other pupils who can follow, even the supervisor says that I should work for the majority. As far as the parents are concerned they are not even aware that their children have a problem. So what to do?

  3. Waiswa Paul says

    am waiswa Paul an occupational therapist at st. Catherine’s hospital in Kampala Uganda kindly request to learn from you more about managing and teaching children with learning disabilities.

  4. Hi, how do I cite this source? I do not see an author or date.

    • Laura, you can cite the source as the Learning Disabilities Association of America using the website address. Hope that helps.

      • hi, i am Tamilvanan working as a special educator, how to handle learning disability students in the inclusive setup

  5. KIPA ROBIN says

    Hi, am a student of B.Ed special . I want to how we can treat/teach students in classroom at secondary level of education for students who have learning disabilities?

  6. chrisshawn shelby says

    HI my name is Chrisshawn Shelby and im a student at Mclain High school and I plan to go to college so that I teach kids with learning disabilities, and make a difference in their lives is there any volunteering I can do near by me?

  7. hi
    my daughter is having learning disabilities and find it very difficult to read and to overcome this problem

    p asokan
    chennai india.

    • LDA of America says


      Take a look at our section for parents ( There’s a variety of information that may help you determine if she might have a learning disability. There are also articles on this page that help with tips and tricks for helping your child as well as advocating for them in school and other situations.

  8. Well done for this information which I found very helpfully. Can you please guide me how best to choose a tutor for my home schooling SPD..sensory processing dysfunction teenager ? I need a tutor to prepare my son for his O’level exams. Thankyou

  9. sangavi baskar says

    Hlw this is sangavi baskar from India…I am a pg student whocis doing project under special education especially learning we teach English for them…how to stimulate their cognitive ability…that’s wat my research…pls give SME suggestions to me and contact me with my mail id… Anyone giveany iinnovative ideas…I surely acknowledge u…

  10. Elisabeth Mullins says

    How do I cite this source? I do not see an author?

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