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New Perspectives - Feb, 1993 Issue #20 

Mary MacCracken
Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1986
Condensed by Reader's Digest, March, 1990

The author tutors young children with Learning Disabilities in the New York City area. This book talks about her experiences with individual children and some of the education philosophy she has developed from this experience. She observes there are between five and ten million children in the U.S. with some form of learning disability. These children are often bright and eager to learn, but by the third or fourth grade have encountered enormous difficulties in regular classrooms and are judged failures both by themselves, and by their classmates, teachers, and parents. The author points out there are several types of Learning Disabilities, thus there is not just one teaching technique. However, she asserts, the teaching philosophy which covers all these children is: "Start at the point where the child actually is, teach to the strengths, respect the child's intelligence, break learning into manageable components and build from there." Actually, this is a good philosophy for any child, with or without a Learning Disability. Two other important elements the author talks about are the necessity of active parent support rather than blame or labeling, and the creation of a safe place for children to work where "Kindness, consideration and forgiveness are the usual way of life.... and the rules are few and fair and are made by the people who live and work there, including the children." Those children with Learning Disabilities who are not turned around in Grade School become many of the children who act out their emotional and behavior problems as teenagers, and feed the growing industry of Special Purpose Schools and Programs. The Special Purpose School and Program has the same approach, start with where the child is really at, and create a safe place. The major difference is that programs for teenagers are more a cure for behavior problems and require heavy structure, while the author in working with younger children is more a prevention, and can more easily work within the typical structure of a family.

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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