Students and parents on the brink of embarking on a new chapter in their child’s education often wonder what it means to attend a school specifically designed to educate students diagnosed with learning disabilities. Of course, school websites offer descriptions, friends and family may be able to offer insight, and blogs (like this one) suggest they have the ultimate answer. However, there is no one firm or set answer for what the experience will be like—it's different for everyone.
Despite the LD curriculum being largely unique to each student, there are some constants that students of LD schools can expect.
The Faculty Cares
Many children who are just beginning their time at an LD school have had negative past experiences with educators and administrators. A hallmark of a real LD school, one that cares and is completely geared towards the mission of learning disability education, is that the faculty truly cares about student outcomes.
This will be a unique, and hopefully welcome, feeling for those students who were previously stuck in a system that marginalized them. Sometimes this amount of attention and personalized study can be overwhelming, as students are held accountable both for what they know and what they don't. However, students quickly acclimate to the new positive levels of attention they receive.
There Will Be Tests
No, not just history exams. Rather, attending an LD school means that students must confront their disabilities and differences head on. This can be very trying, but it is perhaps the most important aspect of attending a school devoted to educating children with learning differences. Students must understand their unique set of strengths and areas of challenge.
LD schools are designed to push students in appropriate ways – enough to spur growth, but not so much that students become overwhelmed and shut down. This constant “testing” is vital to personal growth.
Stigmas Still Exist
Even as school’s like Eagle Hill School and other LD schools push the envelope and further the entire progressive educational agenda, unfortunately stigmas against people with learning disabilities exist.
There are two things that can be said about this. One, students will have to contend with the reality that their peers at other schools or in their hometown might not immediately accept their new form of education. Two, LD schools can help coach them how to deal with this adversity, to the degree it still exists, and help students overcome their own preconceived notions of what attending an LD school means.Finally, an LD school is still very much an intensive learning experience. Those who think LD schools aren’t challenging or don’t offer the same level of education are sorely mistaken. LD schools are preparing students for college and for life every bit as much as the so-called "traditional" schools. Students who are getting ready for their first semester at school should understand this and come prepared, knowing that they are about to embark on a very special experience.