Letter to my teacher

I am not stupid or dumb, but I have a Learning Difficulty which means I learn differently. This information has been put together by a group of children with learning difficulties to help you understand me and to show you how I need to be taught in your class.

Please:

  • Put me into a group that will help me to behave, not encourage me to be the class clown. I need the best role models.
  • Do not expect me to understand what you have said just because the rest of the class does. Just check on me so that I know what I am supposed to be doing and that I have the right equipment to do it.
  • I get angry at times when I do not understand. I do not mean to be naughty, but it is so frustrating when I really want to understand like my friends, but I don’t. (It won’t always look that way.)
  • Don’t make me call my marks out in front of the class. When everyone is getting higher marks than me, it makes me feel bad.
  • Understand that I do learn differently. Don’t expect me to learn the way the rest of the class learns. If the rest of the class understands something, probably I won’t, but I might be too shy to tell you. Check up on me every now and then.
  • Don’t ask me to read aloud in front of the class or group without letting me practise first. Give me the option of saying no to reading in front of others.
  • Give me time to think. If you are going to ask me a question in class, try and give me prior warning so I have the time to think of the answer. I enjoy being part of the class discussions, but I take longer to think than some and I don’t think as well when you surprise me.
  • Help me to pronounce words properly. It can be difficult spelling a word when I say it incorrectly.
  • Sometimes it is hard for me to get the right word out. My brain knows it, but it can be slow to send it to my tongue.
  • I can often forget what I was going to say if I have my hand up too long. Don’t draw the class’s attention to this. Just go to the next hand up and come back to me in a few minutes.
  • If I get angry, give me time to calm down first before you talk to me. I will be ready to listen to you then.
  • When I write, take time to appreciate what I have written before you correct all my spelling mistakes.
  • Covering my work in red pen is so depressing. Maybe you could talk to me about what needs correcting rather than putting lots of red crosses through my work.
  • When you tell me I am lazy or I need to try harder, it makes me want to give up because I am trying. Believe me, if I could spell the word right or read the sentence, I would.
  • My brain gets tired because I have to work twice as hard as my classmates. For them learning is not a struggle. For me it is a long distance race. Sometimes it is easier to let me finish the work tomorrow rather than to push me when my brain says it has had enough.
  • I have difficulty paying attention. It is not that I do not want to hear you or not do what you want me to do. It is just that I hear the birds outside and I stop to listen to them. I hear the girls whispering in the back row and I want to join in their conversation. And I hear the ambulance siren and I wonder where it is going. Don’t get angry at me. Just tap on my desk and quietly call my name. That reminds me to get on with the task.
  • Do not put me near the window. I love to gaze outside and that makes it hard for me to focus on what I am supposed to be doing.
  • Often I will forget instructions, especially if I have to move from one place to another. If you write them on the board as well, I will be able to see them when I forget.
  • Work out what is important for me. Is it really necessary for me to copy lots of information from the board? I have a poor memory and I have difficulty spelling, so when I copy from the board I do it letter by letter, not word by word. Could you make me a photocopy?
  • I pretend. I am very good at it. If I look like I understand, just check on me. I will often pretend so I do not look stupid, but I am not learning either.
  • Don’t let others butt in.
  • If I take a long time to get out what I want to say, please do not finish my sentences for me or guess what I am about to say. I need to express myself in my own way.
  • I have a poor memory. Please give me exercises to help this. This could be done as a homework exercise which would be more valuable to me than trying to do things I cannot understand.
  • I need more exercises to help me remember what you have taught me than most. I could do these for homework also. Things tend to pop out of my head when I sleep, so don’t be surprised if I have forgotten what you told me yesterday. Just remind me again: this will help me to remember.
  • I will need more time from you, so please put me near you where I can ask for help without attracting attention.