The program offers a comprehensive, three dimensional treatment for these children's needs:
- The students receive support on two related levels, both essentially important for their successful integration at school: on the first level, children are taught compensatory learning strategies adjusted to their individual strengths and needs. In addition to that, the students participate in personal counseling groups, where they can share and deal with their behavioral and emotional difficulties, with the purpose of increasing their self confidence. All activities are carried out in small groups.
- The school staff takes part in special training sessions, designed to help them understand the nature of learning disorders and acquire new skills for compensatory teaching strategies, thus making a conceptual change at school on the subject of LD.
- The parents participate in group workshops which equip them with tools to provide the needed emotional and practical everyday support for their LD children. The meetings suggest ways of how to improve the communication with their children at home. The purpose of these meetings is to make it possible for these parents to structure a new family environment better suited for the needs of their children.
The need for this program derives from the fact that children with learning disorders (LD) very often struggle to keep up with their peers in school. Their difficulties and scholastic failures result in low self-esteem, as well as growing frustration towards the educational process as a whole.This is particularly true for children in disadvantaged areas, whose problems are often neglected or even ignored due to harsh economic situation and lack of awareness. The risk increases towards the transfer from Junior-High to High-School, when their achievements may not be good enough to stay at school and consequently they might be transferred to other school than not necessarily will enable them to fulfill their full cognitive potential.
The program goals refer to the three populations simultaneously:
Students with LD will show improvement in their:
- Scholastic performance at school.
- Use of learning strategies.
- Behavior at school: such as: homework preparation, absence rates, motivation for studying, etc.
Teachers will improve their know-how and teaching skills for children with LD.
Parents of LD children will improve their knowledge which will then enable them to create a better dialogue with their children.
The two main objectives of the program are:
1. To promote achievements and self-esteem of Junior-High students with learning disorders from the social and geographical periphery of Israel, in order to maximize their potential. The program aims to help them stay in the regular educational environments, especially throughout the transfer to High-school, and opens the way for academic studies. All this, in order to enable their integration into normative society.
2. To increase awareness, change conceptions, and improve teaching strategies among the teachers, in all the subjects related to children with learning disorders.
Evaluation and Monitoring
The program's various components (students' scholastic achievements and emotional well-being, parents' attitudes, and teachers' teaching strategies) are evaluated on a regular basis. Following are some examples:
- As of today, all Yes I Can! students who graduated our 3 years-program, continue to attend regular High-School and not even one student was reassigned to other schools due to incompatibility.
- The transfer from elementary school to junior high school is a hurdle all children must overcome. For children who suffer from LD this transfer is a critical phase in their educational process. When they reach the 7th grade they experience a severe drop in their grades. Therefore, maintaining their grades is, in fact, an achievement. Of the students who started the program in 2011 there have been phenomenal results. See the following illustration for the tri-annual progress:
The Braunschvig Traditional High-School in Jerusalem -Grade comparison in "language-related subjects":
From the above illustration we can see that in spite of the increased academic level from 7th Grade to 9th Grade, the Yes I Can! children managed to consistently maintain and even improve their grades in all of the language-related subjects through which learning strategies are taught. As mentioned before even maintaining their grades is an outstanding achievement.