The residence program provides a structured and organized setting that requires students to take responsibility for their environment. In this structured setting, the daily school program is supported in two ways – a structured homework period and social skills training.
Research confirms the concept that homework, when done under the proper supervision, is a very effective reinforcing tool for students with learning disabilities. Generally, students are assigned up to one hour of homework each day Monday through Thursday. Students usually do their homework in residence at an assigned time. Homework may be assigned on weekends but is an individual decision on the part of teachers. Homework assignments are a review of information previously learned by the student or follow up to what has been taught in class. It is part of the student’s responsibility to accurately record his homework assignments each day in a student planner or in a substitute homework book as a reminder to the student in the evening. Students are responsible for homework – both completion and quality; consequences for not completing homework are assigned on an individual/personalized basis. Counsellors assist and monitor students during their homework periods. Also, counsellors can check to see what homework has been assigned each night.
An equally significant component of the residence program is the development of appropriate social behaviour through social skills training. Research about learning disabilities indicates that in addition to academic disabilities, most students with learning disabilities have social skill deficits.
Upon entry, each student is assessed to:
- Establish baselines of social functioning
- Identify student needs in the area of appropriate social skills
- Design a specific program to address those needs
Throughout the process the residence counsellor actively consults with the student, the home room teacher and the parents in the design and the implementation of the program. Parents are asked to support the transfer of the skills learned in the program to the home setting. When this happens, students gain the maximum benefit from the program. Part of the Demonstration School’s role is the help parents understand the student’s learning disabilities and to use the benefit of our experience to enhance the quality of the family’s life through exposure to our program. This often brings about some changes in the way that the family and the student interact with each other.