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5 Tips from Leslie Josel, Founder, Order Out of Chaos

Meredith Polsky

Top 5 Tips For Religious School Educators

February is recognized as Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, and therefore time for us to remember that our students with disabilities need tools and strategies to make their classroom environment one that promotes success.  These techniques will help all students, whether they have a disability or not, but are especially helpful for students with disabilities.

1. Students with disabilities need structure. Have as predictable a schedule as possible. Post it on the blackboard or even the student’s desk. Refer to it often. Begin the class by previewing what is to come and reviewing what has previously been taught.  Transitions and unannounced changes are very difficult for these students so take special care to prepare for transitions well in advance. Announce what is going to happen then give repeat reminders as the time approaches.

2. Devices such as timers and buzzers can help a student self-monitor AND keep track of time. For example, during quiet or reading time, a timer placed on a student’s desk can help the student know exactly where the time is going and also help the student become aware of when transitions to other activities will take place.

3. Don’t diminish the power of the protein. Protein is considered “brain food” as it helps students think clearly, concentrate and learn.  Have snacks such as kosher jerky, string cheese and a power bars on hand for when a child seems cranky or fatigued.

4. Make a game out of learning. Create “learning” stations around the room to ramp up energy (especially important for those late afternoon classes) or engage students with multi sensory learning to increase motivation. By integrating unconventional and playful teaching into the classroom, students will most likely be more enthusiastic and therefore more attentive.

5. If your lesson plans allow it, set it to music! Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure. And we all know that students with learning differences and attention deficits need structure.  Music can help a student plan what to do next, anticipate and react as well as sooth and regulate the brain.

Want to learn more from Leslie? Join us at our Building Communities Lecture Series on February 28, 2013 at Westchester Jewish Center, 6:30 pm. For more information, or to RSVP email 

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