Many boarding schools open a portion of their student body to students with mild learning differences- ranging from dyslexia to ADD/ADHD to executive function.
The programs support students teaching work around planning and strategies—working toward the goal of making the student a successful lifelong learner and self advocate when he/she encounters learning challenges.
Schools with instructional support, or learning skills programs offer an impressive array of services that strive to build student success and competence in learning for all types of learners.These programs often come at additional cost to a school's tuition.
The programs below are dedicated to offering strategic instructional support that either focus on a specific learning issue or implement important strategies designed to help students acquire strong learning and advocacy skills.
Kents Hill School
At the Kents Hills School in Maine, students are provided with the skills to become life-long learners. For students with learning disabilities, the school's Akin Learning Skills Center provides a support program for students with mild to moderate learning differences. Considered to be one of the first such programs in private schools in the nation, the Akin Learning Skills Center is known for providing superb support, while helping all students acquire strong learning and advocacy skills for college and beyond.
Students enrolled in the Learning Skills Center are mainstreamed into regular college preparatory classes and meet with tutors in a one-on-one or one-on-two situation during the regular school day. Because tutors work closely with the classroom teachers appropriate accommodations can be offered and learning needs can be met.
With two levels of support offered, Kents Hill students start with more rigorous supervision of their learning strategies, where work is checked daily, extra help is offered and tutors work with the students on organizational and study skills. Students who need less supervision and tutoring meet two days a week with a tutor. Over time, the program works to help students ascend through the levels with the goal of eventually moving out of the Learning Skills Center altogether.
The Evolution of Kents Hill School's Learning Skill Program
Located in Andover, New Hampshire Proctor Academy is committed to individual student success offering a variety of services designed to enables greater student achievement and success. Opportunities like extra help, peer tutoring, Learning Skills, and effort grading are a part of Proctor's supportive learning structure.
Proctor's Learning Skills approach is a structured, academic support program that services approximately 100 out of Proctor's 355 students. Students can apply to the program during the admissions process by indicating an interest in Learning Skills support and providing a comprehensive learning evaluation (including cognitive and achievement testing) that enables the Admission Committee to determine the applicant's likelihood for success within the program.
Once enrolled in Learning Skills, students are academically mainstreamed. While assigned the same coursework as students not enrolled in the program, Learning Skills students are also assigned one course period in their schedule for meeting with a learning specialist. Students are expected to commit to a full year in the program, but students can remain in full program as long as needed.
Dunn School, located in Los Olivos, California, is committed to providing a learning environment that is engaging, challenging, and supportive. As such, students receive abundant personal attention from an advisor who helps them achieve academic goals and personal development. In addition, the school's Learning Strategies Center works to accommodate a select group of bright students with minimal diagnosed learning difficulties. The Center provides a constructive, practical and inspirational support system designed to maximize each student's academic success.
Students within the Learning Strategies program enroll in the same college-prep classes as other Dunn students while meeting each day with their Learning Specialist to focus on daily class work and homework. Additionally, students are able to work one-on-one with a Learning Specialist- working on time management, learning strategies, and organizational and study skills and receiving accommodations such as extended time on tests and the use of technology.
Graduates of the Learning Strategies Center have attended a wide range of universities and liberal arts colleges, including Northeastern University, Case Western, University of Oregon, University of Redlands, UC Berkeley, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Arizona, Dartmouth College, Colorado State University, Berklee College of Music, Whittier College and Dominican University.
Blue Ridge School
At the Blue Ridge School in St. George, Virginia, students of the all boys, all boarding college preparatory school engage in a structured environment with a strong sense of community. Small classes allow teachers to give personalized attention and individualize teaching materials for their classes.
For students with learning differences, Blue Ridge School's Fishburne Learning Center serves to provide an interactive, multisensory and considerate learning environment. In addition to offering a quiet study area and assistance with homework or test preparation, the Fishburne Learning Center provides twice-weekly skill-building classes in organization, time management and critical thinking, as well as daily classes to address mild-to-moderate needs in reading, mathematics and/or written expression.
The Center also provides individuals with learning differences access to assistive technology such as digitized textbooks and novels, text-to-speech and speech-to-text software, and interactive online reading and writing programs.
The Forman School
The Forman School is devoted to educating students with learning differences. Unlike other schools, which may offer supplemental strategic learning programs, Forman's curriculum focuses solely on delivering a comprehensive academic program designed to build student success and competence in learning.
Every Forman student is assigned a designated learning specialist, who teach specific strategies, either one-on-one or in small groups, designed to enhance the academic curriculum. As students learn to use tools and techniques that can be applied across a variety of course disciplines, they begin grow more confident and become independent learners.
At the heart of The Forman School is the Learning Center, which focuses on helping students gain the skills and strategies they need to be effective and efficient learners in a college preparatory curriculum. Assisted by Forman's learning specialists, instruction is individualized to help students gain the tools that they need to be independent learners.
Subiaco Academy, a Benedictine school situated among the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains in the Arkansas River Valley is an all boys school dedicated to fostering a system of education, guidance, and community fellowship that develops both the mind and body. To help support the success of every student, the Subiaco Academy features a Support Services Team that works to provide young men with and engaging and supportive environment that is academically well-rounded, structured, and challenging for every student.
With its Enhanced Learning Center, Subiaco Academy provides opportunities for test preparation, peer tutoring, interventions in reading comprehension, study/organizational skills and time management, as well as learning, teaching, and thinking strategies, and academic skills acquisition. The center also offers guidance counseling for new students adjusting to the Subiaco environment, for students with emotional needs and students in need of support and encouragement.
The Purnell School offers girls an opportunity to engage in learning and feel successful in the classroom. By educating young women within a creative, reflective, and supportive classroom and boarding community, Purnell makes resources available for students with learning differences.
The school's Learning Enrichment Center is tasked with discovering the different learning style of each student while optimizing the learning experiences of each student. During her first year at Purnell, each student's individual strengths and challenges and recommends strategies for success that are specifically tailored for her learning. As a result, these strategies are used to design each student's Individual Goal Plan, a plan that includes academic resources for support and enrichment, as well as the student's own goal for personal learning.
In addition, the school's learning specialists provide faculty with up-to-the-minute professional development on the best ways to support and accommodate learners individually and with best-practice teaching methods for the entire class. Students and faculty have access to a variety of tools for instruction, assessment, and assignments, as well as assistive technology for students to provide accommodation and reinforcement of learning.
Learning Skills at Vermont Academy is not a process of remediation. Enrollment and participation in VA's learning skills program comes about through a student's desire to improve.
VA learning skills students arrive to the program in two primary ways; the student may have undergone psycho-educational testing, and have a diagnosed learning difference, or, the student and parents may simply want support and guidance as the student seeks to become and effective learner.
Independence and the ability to manage, and work through, a collegiate curriculum is the larger goal for every Vermont Academy learning skills student.
VA's learning skills program works to instill confidence, and ability to communicate and self-advocate, executive function, an ability to work with others, and as well as pride in a job well done. Shorter term VA learning skills goals include consistent effort, time management, attendance, planning, preparation, and effective and efficient study habits.
VA learning skills students are matched with Learning Specialists based areas of need. Learning Specialists work with students in regularly scheduled sessions, providing help with current, upcoming, or overdue assignments, as well as on the student's larger, longer term, areas of needed improvement.
Not only are each of these schools committed to enriching the curriculum for students who may have different learning styles, they are also dedicated to helping students
discover their unique strengths and gain the confidence to succeed in the world.
Each teaches and encourages its students in a safe, supportive environment that promotes student strengths and works to remedy weaknesses, while helping to develop excellence in academics, character, leadership and service to others.