We are committed to enabling all of our students to work to their highest capabilities and to become successful, independent learners. The Learning Center is designed for those who need additional support and/or have specific learning challenges. There are several learning specialists who work in the middle and upper school, and they are a vital resource to students, faculty, administrators, and parents. Providing support in several ways, the learning specialists:
- direct assistance to students in individual weekly work sessions
- collaborate with faculty, administration, parents, and students
- coordinate and consult with school psychologists and outside support personnel
- implement parent and faculty workshops
- assist in the application for accommodations for the College Board and ACT tests
What are the procedures and protocols for student support?
The school values and advocates a team approach in making important decisions about a child. We believe that effective communication within the school and between school and parents is critical to making decisions in the best interest of the child. At times, the school needs to recommend additional support for a child. This can vary from sharing strategies among staff to recommending outside help. The following outlines our procedures. During all aspects of this process we value the confidentiality of the family and child.
STEP 1: INITIAL CONCERN – ACADEMIC OR BEHAVIORAL
Parents and teachers communicate about initial academic and/or behavioral concerns and begin the process of gathering information. Either the parents or the teacher may initiate the conversation.
STEP 2: STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM MEETING
Teachers and specialists meet with the relevant guidance, learning specialists, and administrative staff to assess the child’s progress, develop strategies for support, and set short- and long-term goals.
STEP 3: RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations are communicated to parents by classroom teachers and/or appropriate guidance, math, or learning specialists. Recommendations might include small group instruction with a learning specialist, after-school programs, tutoring, formal evaluations, or referrals for occupational therapy or speech and language therapy.
STEP 4: FOLLOW-UP TO ASSESS STUDENT PROGRESS
Teachers and parents will set up a schedule to assess student progress. Results of evaluations or outside support will be shared with appropriate school personnel.
What can I do to help my child learn how to read?A
Reading develops along a continuum and is a lifelong process. The classroom teacher is the best source for determining where your child is along the continuum. She can recommend home activities to supplement work in the classroom. The reading specialist is also available to discuss your child’s progress in reading and to make recommendations. We recommend that parents read aloud to their children (no matter their ages) as often as possible.Q
How can I choose appropriate books for my child to read?A
The classroom teacher, reading specialist, and school librarian serve as resources in the school for making recommendations to parents. They can give parents suggested lists of book on various levels. Parents should make certain that their child is reading books that are on his or her reading level. We suggest the “five finger rule.” If your child makes five or more mistakes on a page, the book is too difficult. The content should be age-appropriate and at a level your child can understand. Reading from easier books helps to encourage fluency.Q
What if my child is having some difficulty learning? What does the school offer in the way of extra help?A
Teachers assess their students, both formally and informally, on an ongoing basis. In addition, learning specialists administer a number of formal screenings throughout the grades. When an assessment has been administered, the classroom teacher and the professional who performed the assessment share the results with the parents. Based on the results, classroom teachers can make accommodations for a child in the classroom. For students in grades 4 and 5, the school offers after-school ‘homework help’ in math and language arts. If intervention is recommended as a result of the screenings, the learning specialist and/or psychologist and classroom teacher meet with the parents to discuss various options.Q
What do I do if I feel my child has any kind of more serious learning problem?A
We think that early intervention is important. The first step is to speak with the classroom teacher, share your concern, and request a meeting with a learning specialist. You should also feel free to share your concern with the principal or assistant principal.Q
Who do I talk to if I think my child needs a psycho-educational evaluation? How is this process initiated?A
Either the parents or the school may initiate the process. Either way, if you or your child’s teacher thinks that a psycho-educational evaluation may be helpful in better addressing your child’s behavioral or academic difficulties, the best place to start is with the school’s psychologist. She can discuss the merits and limitations of an evaluation and help you choose an evaluator. If your child has already been evaluated, she can coordinate a meeting with you, your child’s teacher, and, ideally, the evaluator to review the results and recommendations.
If the school has recommended an outside evaluation, how will that affect my child's future at the school?
An evaluation gives us more information about how your child learns and processes information. In most cases, it gives teachers a broader range of strategies for teaching your child more effectively. An evaluation by itself never determines a child’s future at the school.Q
Once my child has been evaluated, how should that information be shared with the school?A
The school makes every effort to be sensitive to privacy and confidentiality issues. In general, a child’s academic performance and emotional well-being are often interrelated. The more information we have about a child’s functioning, the better equipped we are to attend to the child’s needs. At a minimum, parents are asked to share with the guidance department those parts of an evaluation that are relevant to the child’s experience at school. The psychologist and/or guidance counselor will then share key strategies and recommendations with the teacher.Q
Our family is having difficulties. Who do I talk to about how this might affect my child in school?A
When a child’s home life undergoes a major change or transition, the child may express his or her feelings in ways that can cause difficulty in school, behaviorally, socially, or academically. The guidance counselor and psychologist are available to talk with parents about matters such as divorce or death and how they can best support their children, depending on their individual needs and developmental stage. The guidance counselor and psychologist can also help parents determine the benefits of additional support, such as psychotherapy, and provide families with the name of a professional, if necessary.Q
Does the psychologist or social worker ever meet with individual children or groups of children?A
The psychologist and guidance counselor are both clinically trained professionals who are available to talk with children on a short-term basis. They may talk with an individual child who is feeling overwhelmed by academic or social demands. They may meet with groups of children who are trying to navigate the pressures of changing friendships and social expectations. Their overriding intent in these conversations is to help children find their own ways of solving problems. If a child needs support on a longer-term basis, the psychologist or guidance counselor will refer the family to an appropriate professional.