Created: June 25, 2022 08:00
Finding the right learning environment can have a big impact on student success, even in a short time.
Jonah MacGuinness enjoys life on the water off the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club
At the Bermuda Center for Creative Learning, with small class sizes and a flexible learning environment, our school personalizes learning for children who have been identified with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia and d other difficulties that can affect learning such as attention deficit. hyperactivity disorder.
Cindy Corday is co-founder and school director of the Bermuda Center for Creative Learning. Visit www.bccl.bm to learn more about BCCL’s approach and access resources regarding language-based learning differences
Over the past seven years, BCCL has strived to provide a welcoming environment for students who learn differently to ensure they are supported socially, emotionally and academically.
Using evidence-based teaching practices, students work at their individual skill level in small groups and progress through the levels as they master the skills. Providing frequent brain breaks throughout the school day helps students reset, focus, and have a higher rate of skill retention.
For Jonah MacGuinness, who is in his second year at the BCCL, that has certainly been the case.
In just 18 months, the ten-year-old went from struggling to keep up with his studies and lacking confidence to working academically and thriving in both his learning and social skills.
Her parents, Neil and Arlene MacGuinness, say her transformation is “simply remarkable”.
Mr MacGuinness said: “Socially and emotionally he’s grown exponentially and he’s so much more confident than he was when he started at BCCL.”
Jonah had speech apraxia and a neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed when he was 3 years old. It was therefore difficult for her to thrive in an overly rigid approach to teaching that is typically found in most traditional classrooms.
“The small class sizes and personalized approach to education at BCCL has allowed Jonah to thrive in every way,” adds Ms. MacGuinness. “We are very grateful to the BCCL team, and we are so happy to have found the right school for our son.”
Jonah says he’s better at school now because his teachers are “nice and nice”.
He adds: “We play games to learn, and it makes things more fun. We also have brain breaks and my favorites are playing ping pong and working out on the stairs.
One of his favorite parts of learning was working on projects in the International Middle Years Program, which is a project-based program used in school, as well as learning to navigate at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.
“My favorite project was creating my mind map for adaptability,” he says. “Mrs. Nikki hung it in the window.
“I [also] likes to sail at the dinghy club because we manage to use the RS21 sailboats. They are big and very fast. The dinghy club is the only club that owns these boats. We get to sail into the harbor and near the [Great] Sound.”
BCCL students who require speech therapy or occupational therapy can benefit from these interventions during the school day. Having therapies in school also allows therapists to communicate with teachers about ways they can incorporate strategies that facilitate students’ therapeutic goals.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities reports that “one in five children in the United States has learning and attention problems, but only a small subset receives specialized instruction or accommodations.”
To compare these statistics with Bermuda, in 2020, 8,916 students were enrolled from preschool through high school. If 20% of that number had learning differences, there could be 1,783 children with learning and attention deficits across the island.
“These children are as smart as their peers and can reach high levels, but are too often mistakenly seen as lazy or unintelligent. Without the appropriate academic or emotional support, they are far more likely than their peers to repeat grades, be suspended, and drop out of school. People with learning and attention problems also experience difficulties at work and have high rates of involvement with the criminal justice system. But this downward spiral can be avoided.The State of LDs: Understanding Learning and Attention Problems.
All students want to be in an environment where they feel supported, truly loved by their teachers, and empowered to learn in a way that matches their learning style. Jonas has made significant progress. He started his stay with us as a calm and introverted student. He made friends; his increased self-confidence is evident. Focusing on the social and emotional needs of students is directly correlated to their academic growth.
• Cindy Corday is co-founder and school director of the Bermuda Center for Creative Learning. Visit www.bccl.bm to learn more about BCCL’s approach and access resources regarding language-based learning differences