Accommodating a variety of learners

While these tips were originally developed with regard to classroom environments, they are also relevant to parents (think about how and where kids do homework), and apply to learners of all ages.

• Build on student strengths; teach to a variety of intelligences and abilities

• Respect different types of thinking processes, different ways of attending (taking in information), explaining and experiencing the world. (Think beyond uniformity and beyond your own style—the way you learn best.)

• Allow students to learn or demonstrate knowledge in ways that are natural for them. Provide a variety of assessment opportunities. (In addition to traditional testing or calling on students in front of the entire class, a short one-to-one discussion can give you tons of information about the child’s preparedness and understanding. Consider alternative demonstrations of mastery for students who do not test well or freeze when called on.)

• Provide a comfortable physical environment (light, heat, seating, etc.)

• Allow for movement (stretching, chewing, walking, etc.), talking and social interaction.

• Use a variety of instructional and assessment techniques; integrating curricular areas.

• Minimize or eliminate fear-based interaction, including instructional and discipline strategies.

We all learn better in an environment in which we feel emotionally safe and connected to others; when we are able to make mistakes without eliciting anger, frustration, impatience, or disappointment from the instructor; and when our natural learning styles and preferences are accommodated. See “Some Kids Study Better When…” for more details.

Excerpted from Creating Emotionally Safe Schools, by Dr. Jane Bluestein (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc, 2001)

© 2001, 2012, Dr. Jane Bluestein

Read the Rave Reviews for Creating Emotionally Safe Schools!

Related resources:

The Animal School
Children at Risk: Common characteristics and family patterns
Conditions with ADHD “Look-Alike” Symptoms
The “Ideal” Student: The students we were taught to teach
I’m Hyperactive, You’re Hyperactive
Increasing Success for All Students
Literacy: What’s Movement Got to Do with It?
Ways to Reach More Students
Multiple Intelligences
Some Kids (Really Do) Study Better When…
Water and the Body
Myers-Briggs Personality Types
Myers-Briggs Scales and Categories


Book: The Beginning Teacher’s Survival Guide: Win-Win Strategies for Success
Book: Creating Emotionally Safe Schools
Book: The Win-Win Classroom

Audio: Practical Strategies for Working Successfully with Difficult Students


The Fragile Learner: Reaching and teaching struggling students, with Hanoch McCarty, with Hanoch McCarty
The Inclusive Teacher: Success with ADD and ADHD students, with Margit Crane
Movement and Learning: A partnering relationship, with Aili Pogust


Creating Emotionally Safe Schools: Is Your School an Emotionally Safe Place?
Dealing with Difficult Students: Practical Strategies for Success with Defiant, Defeated, and other At-Risk Kids
The ‘I-Can’ Classroom: Building for Success and Achievement for ALL Students 
“My Brain Doesn’t Work Like That”: Creating Success with Non-Traditional Learners by Accommodating Learning Differences
The Win-Win Classroom: A Fresh and Positive Look at Classroom Management

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