Help children with Specific Learning Differences achieve
Helping children to learn is not an easy task. And if you are a parent working with children with Specific Learning Differences (SpLD), the task gets even more complex.
It is not quite as straightforward as guiding them to finish their homework or preparing them to sit for exams. To help these children become effective and passionate lifelong learners, parents need to provide them with multi-faceted support, from managing their emotions to identifying their strengths.
The good news is that a lot of research is being carried out locally and globally to offer comprehensive insights into the learning challenges of children with SpLD. And since 2015, experts from around the world have convened in Singapore to share their findings with parents, teachers and practitioners working with children with SpLD – at the annual UNITE SpLD Conference organised by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS).
The conference delivers research covering behaviour, identification, early intervention, technology, multilingualism and assessment through keynote presentations, track presentations, poster presentations, workshops and pre-conference sessions.
Unlike typical technical research conferences, speakers at UNITE SpLD present their research and practical solutions in short, engaging and entertaining sessions. This makes it easy for not just practitioners, but parents of children with SpLD to understand and benefit from the conference.
In addition, the conference always provides participants with the rare opportunity to talk directly with researchers to clarify their doubts.
Changing World, Evolving Pedagogies
The world is changing and our education system, along with pedagogies, needs to evolve with it.
For example, as children gain greater access to burgeoning online resources and acquire more digital skills, it is timely for educators to rethink their pedagogical approaches. This could help students take control of their own learning and lead to greater motivation and learning outcomes.
Topics like this were explored during UNITE SpLD 2019 held in June last year. At the conference, DAS Educational Therapists conducted a workshop on “How teaching with digital tools affects motivation and learning outcome”.
Besides sharing principles of technology-enabled learning models, the session also imparted practical tips on understanding the differences between learners and the implications of lesson design, using examples and case studies from the DAS Main Literacy Programme classrooms.
Be equipped to face different battles
Parents with children with SpLD face different battles. For example, for some of these parents, their children may have other learning disorders besides dyslexia. In fact, it has been estimated that in Singapore, around five per cent of children have co-occurring disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and Executive Function Disorder.
This is one of the topics that will be discussed at UNITE SpLD 2020, to be held as an online conference this June. Fintan O’Regan, leading behaviour and learning specialist in the UK will conduct a 30-minute workshop on this topic.
He will share about a multi-disciplinary approach to help students with co-morbidities experience more positive school and learning experiences. Parents can learn ways to achieve desired behaviour in their children through effective strategies for behaviour management, organisational skills and medication.
For example, parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can learn about the range of systems and strategies that could support their children towards successful learning and positive behaviour outcomes.
Another interesting keynote presentation is on “Addressing the literacy needs of children who speak non-mainstream dialects”. Research has shown that children who use a variety of different dialects experience great difficulties in developing reading and writing skills. Dr. Julie A. Washington, a Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education at Georgia State University will share about dialect differences, their impact on reading and writing and the impact of these differences on teaching and learning.
2020 has been an extremely uncertain year for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we grapple with the impact of the pandemic, it is important for parents of children with SpLD to not just help their children navigate short-term challenges but become successful learners in the long term. UNITE SpLD 2020 will be a good place to start.
UNITE SpLD 2020 will take place online from June 24 – 25.
For more information about the speakers and presentations, go to http://bit.do/unitespld2020. Registration for the conference is now open!
Article written by
Manmeet Kaur, Staff Professional Development Executive of Dyslexia Association of Singapore, member of the UNITE SpLD Conference Organising Committee and Affiliate Member of Register of Educational Therapists (Asia)
photo credit: Dyslexia Association of Singapore