Students learn best when their differences are understood and accepted, when appropriate accommodations are made available and, most importantly, when their strengths as learners are defined, affirmed, and cultivated.
At Lawrence, this is our way of life – built on the foundation that school is a "safe place" for students to engage in the process of learning. And, within this encouraging environment, Lawrence provides a comprehensive K-12 program that features specialized and personalized attention, organizational strategies and aids, mutual accountability and encouraged self-advocacy, and an engaged faculty of learners.
Our approach — respecting differences and building on strengths — is vital for students who learn differently and may well serve as a successful model for educating all students, in all schools.
The Lawrence Perspective
At Lawrence School, we often say that 'differences are not disabilities'.
Many Lawrence students have been identified as having a 'learning disability' either by a medical professional or a school psychologist at a former school. At Lawrence – and in many other schools and organizations – the term 'learning difference' has been adopted as a better descriptor of the ways our students learn best.
'Learning disabilities' unintentionally implies that a person has a general 'deficit' in learning as a whole. We know that this is not the case. Rather, students with learning differences are just as intelligent, and can learn just as quickly and effectively as other students – if they are taught in a way that best suits their unique learning styles.
The key is to place those unique learners in an environment that uses creative yet structured learning techniques, employed by teachers who know how to help bring out the best in each student.
This also holds true for those students with organizational or attention difficulties such as ADD or ADHD. While these diagnoses do not fall under the category of 'learning disabilities' they certainly qualify as differences in learning. And as with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, specialized methods and practices can help students with attention difficulties employ strategies that will allow them to become successful learners.