What does it mean to have a learning disability?

A learning disability is not something that is “wrong” with a child, or an adult for that matter. Language-based learning disabilities are what makes these children exceptional. Their brains collect and process information in a different way than their peers. So, despite having average or above average intelligence,  some children find that learning to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations is extremely challenging in a traditional large-format classroom.

How do I know if The Hillside School is right for my family?

Ask us. If you feel your child learns better in a small group with more personalized attention, call us to find out if we might be able to provide a learning environment where he or she can excel. If we can’t help, we will be happy to refer you to the resources you will need.

Is The Hillside School for children with autism or emotional/developmental challenges?

No, unless your child’s emotional difficulties stem from frustrations brought on by his/her language-based learning disability.  The Hillside School provides specific, research-based programming designed to meet the needs of students who struggle with language (dyslexia), have attention issues (ADD/ADHD) or difficulties with math (dyscalculia). Our programs allow teachers to focus on the individual needs of each student. Our teachers focus on student’s strengths and assist them in recognizing and working through weaknesses.

What are the signs that my child may need a different approach to learning?

The signs and symptoms may vary depending on the particular needs and difficulties that a child exhibits.  It is important to consider many factors, including; their learning style, their ability to focus in their current educational environment and other assistance they may be receiving outside of the classroom.

Common indicators for preschool age children can include:

  • Communication delays, slow language development or difficulty understanding what is said
  • Poor coordination;  slow motor development; later, difficulty forming letters and numerals
  • Problems with memory, routine or following multiple instructions
  • Difficulty playing with and relating to other children

Common indicators for elementary age children can include:

  • Difficulty with skills related to phonics development, such as letter sounds, blending sounds, remembering sight words
  • Problems writing letters and numbers; later difficulty with spelling and grammar
  • Difficulty with skills related to math, such as doing  calculations and remembering facts
  • Inability to organize materials, information, or concepts; difficulty planning and following through on long-term assignments
  • Problems understanding what is taught verbally as well as difficulty expressing ideas verbally
  • Forgetfulness; losing papers, forgetting to turn in homework
  • Trouble organizing thoughts in writing or speaking

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Can I get help through my public school system?

Several federal laws protect a child’s educational right to a free public education. Your school district has a procedure for you to follow in order to request educational testing for your child. If a learning disability is diagnosed, the district will create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for your child. Parents must make sure that the IEP is followed, and make critical decisions as they advocate for the most appropriate education for their child.

Some parents discover that the remediation steps written in the IEP do not meet their child’s needs, and investigate how the programs at The Hillside School can offer their child a different approach to learning. Our doors are always open to families who want to explore their options.  Hillside has open enrollment year round.

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Can I afford an independent school?

Yes. The Hillside School awards need-based scholarship money / financial aid to approximately 50% of our students each year. Explore this website to find out more about Financial Aid and Admissions.

Will my child grow out of their learning disabilities?

No, however, given the appropriate tools (direct instruction using a multi-sensory approach), children can be successful! Language-based learning disabilities fall on a continuum, ranging from mild to severe.  A language-based learning disability will always remain, but many children can learn strategies to overcome, minimize, or bypass a learning disability. It cannot be assumed that the child will pick up these skills incidentally; otherwise they would have already.

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How do I find out if my child has a learning disability?

Most often, it is best for children to be tested by a professional who specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of language-based learning disabilities. Our admissions office can provide you with appropriate referrals. Please do not hesitate to call us if you need assistance in the testing process. Your school district can also do educational testing that will identify specific learning disabilities. However, this process may take months to arrange and receive.

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