Individualized Instruction

individualized instructionAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “Individualized” means to adapt to the needs or special circumstances of the individual. In the context of education, this means teaching according to student ability and need.  Interestingly enough, just because someone is working with your child “one-on-one” does not necessarily mean the instruction is tailored to his or her needs.  So, what should we expect from individualized instruction?

Here are 7 ways to ensure an individualized plan:

  1. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of the learner. It is customized to fit the individual.  Many times you will see the opposite; the individual is matched to the program of choice that is chosen by the instructor or school.  Usually, it is one that the teacher has available or is directed to use. Instructors with limited experience will do what they know, even if it is not exactly what a child needs.
  2. The pace of instruction is adjusted to how well a student absorbs the content. If it is individualized, the instructor should gauge how often or how long to stay on a topic.
  3. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses should be taken into account. Through a multisensory approach, instruction should incorporate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic styles for all learners.
  4. Continuous assessment should drive instruction that will always focus on the areas of need. It should be apparent as to why time is being spent on certain skills.
  5. Practice opportunities should also be tailored to the individual. There is no point in practicing something that doesn’t need practice.  Deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with a specific goal of improving performance.  It is never mindless repetition.
  6. The instructor should know how to make your child feel comfortable. The beauty of individualized instruction is the opportunity to get to know the individual as a person.  Not only should the instructor have expertise in the subject, the instructor should pay close attention to your child’s likes and dislikes to know how to connect and motivate him or her.
  7. Finally, the instructor should be committed to the success of your child and be a resource for your family. It is not simply the time spent together. Just as important is the time when you or your child needs someone to answer your questions.  This relationship should be built on trust and confidence in knowing that you will always be getting personalized attention.

One-on-one instruction is not always unique and specific to one’s needs.  Individualized instruction that is truly individualized will most certainly yield the desired results!

Faith Borkowsky, Founder and Lead Educational Consultant of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching, is a Certified Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner, is Orton-Gillingham trained, and has extensive training and experience in a number of other research-based, peer-reviewed programs that have produced positive gains for students with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, ADD/ADHD, and a host of learning difficulties.  Her book, Reading Intervention Behind School Walls: Why Your Child Continues to Struggle, is available on Amazon.  See information on her book and an interview with Ms. Borkowsky:



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