Those of you who have been with me for some time, know that I will often have questions when parents talk to me about their child receiving “in-class support” to address the child’s reading issues.

Sure, keeping children as close to their regular class as possible and not having them segregated or pulled out would seem to be a value that most would support.

But, I ask this.  If your child is struggling in reading, spelling and writing are they receiving legitimate, “direct instruction” as a part of “in class support.”  The only way you would know this is if your clarify with the child’s team what is involved with the “in-class support” being received.

More often than not, the type of in class support the child receives is the “don’t let them drown” variety.  That is, the child of concern is in the regular class and has work in front of him that is often too hard to manage.  The in class support teacher, whether a special educator or teacher’s aide, comes over to the child and helps him or her with the work.   THIS IS NOT DIRECT INSTRUCTION.

Direct instruction involves the teaching of specific skills in a structured, sequential manner, with one skill being directly taught to mastery, leading to the next skill to be taught.

Without being confrontational, I would suggest that you clarify what in-class support means by asking some of the following questions to seek further information:

“I know that my child receives “in class support,” but is there a specific method that is being used to teach him to read?”

“How much time will he receive from the in-class support teacher and how much of that time involves direct instruction?”

“Will the support be individual or in small group?”

These questions are not meant to put the child’s team or teacher on the spot, but for you to get a better sense of how much, if any, direct instruction the child will receive.

Having been in the business for some time, there are certain truths that come up time and again that stand the test of time.  One of them is that a struggling child will only move forward if he is taught the skills of concern directly, one step at a time. Support and direct instruction are very different. Both have their purpose.

Takeaway Point

If your child is classified in special education and getting “in-class” support, dig a little deeper and clarify what that means.  Try and open up the discussion of support vs. direct instruction. You may need to get the ratio changed to increase the direct instruction taking place.