Learning Support at Applewild

Applewild prepares bright, motivated students for success in secondary school and in life. We know that students have different learning styles and strengths and that progress can come on different timetables. A comprehensive definition of excellence therefore includes students with learning differences, and our emphasis on respect includes valuing such differences.

Because of our size, our commitment to know each child well, our years of experience, and our breadth and depth of program, we are ideally suited to challenge a range of capable, creative students, including those ready to move quickly through our curriculum and those who require support.

We want all of our students to feel success and be recognized for achievement. Extra help is a standard part of instruction as needed, and we provide all students with explicit practice in study skills. The goal of our learning support program is to provide strategies to students with learning differences while integrating them into our standard program as much as possible.

Being known well and having strengths affirmed are key motivators for all students. Involvement in all aspects of our program provides multiple ways for that accomplishment and recognition to occur. The goal is the same for all students – that they become successful learners.

Partnership With Parents

Among Applewild’s strengths is how we partner with parents. This partnership is particularly powerful for those students who begin to show evidence of learning interferences because early assessment and intervention are key to understanding how to help children learn best. If progress does not match innate ability once a student is at Applewild, our Learning Specialist works with both the school and family to identify the areas of interference and then develop strategies and an academic plan, which often includes an outside educational evaluation.

That evaluation helps identify students' strengths and areas of needed growth and is shared with appropriate school staff so that an effective support plan can be implemented. For a particularly gifted student, generally working successfully two or more grade levels ahead, the result may be a plan for acceleration in a specific course or a grade level.

More often, learning differences are identified that require additional support so that students develop the skills for academic success. The Academic Support Coordinator schedules the support plan and communicates with families about the logistics and fees involved.

A student’s academic plan might include individual or small group instruction, tutoring in a specific subject area, reading and/or mathematics scaffolding, or general organization/executive function support. The goal is to build needed skills and abilities while also helping students to develop their talents and interests.

Families Considering Admission

For those families who enter the admission process looking for more support or success for their student, we partner with parents to make sure we can confidently predict positive outcomes. Because we value the whole child, success can be achieved in multiple ways.

Our admission process, which includes in such cases specific testing, ensures that we enroll students who will be the right match so they can begin to make successful progress, with all that means for each child’s self-esteem. 

The Profile of a Learning Support Student

The Learning Support Program at Applewild is designed for learners who

  • Have average to superior cognitive ability

  • Are motivated to succeed

  • Have supportive parents who value partnering with the school

  • Have mild to moderate learning needs

    • Including Language-based Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia

    • Executive function weakness and/or

    • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Are able to manage a busy day with multiple teachers in several locations

  • Are able to access our existing curriculum with support and modification

  • May have mild to moderate anxiety issues but no other/major emotional issues

Applewild is not the right fit for students with social or behavioral disorders.

What kinds of mild to moderate learning difficulties is Applewild successful in supporting?

  • Reading: Often referred to as dyslexia or a language-based learning disability, this is characterized by difficulty with decoding, spelling, reading fluency, and/or comprehension.

  • Written Language: This is characterized by difficulties with grammar and punctuation, difficulty organizing ideas, and/or excessively poor handwriting.

  • Math: This is characterized by weak number sense and by difficulty learning math concepts, memorizing math facts, organizing numbers, or applying math concepts to word problems.

  • Expressive/Receptive Language: These are communication disorders in which there are difficulties with verbal and written expression. Expressive language disorders are often characterized by expressive spoken language that is markedly below appropriate level but with language comprehension that is within normal limits. Receptive language disorders are often characterized by difficulty in understanding spoken, and sometimes, written language.

  • Executive Function: This is characterized by difficulty with planning, organizing, and managing time. Weaknesses in working memory are common. This difficulty with organization has a negative impact on a student’s academic skills and self-advocacy and sometimes the ability to form age appropriate social relationships.

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity: This is characterized by inattentiveness, over activity, and impulsivity that is out of the normal range for the student’s age and development. These difficulties can have a negative impact on the student’s achievement and social relationships.

Our program does not accommodate students whose diagnosis is behavioral or emotional.

Are there additional fees for this program?

Yes. Families pay for the highly individual attention of any tutoring that is established based on the level of support required. There is also a graduated comprehensive fee that ranges from $50 to $500, depending on the level of support required, and there is a fee for Language Waiver support based on the number of sessions.

Because the fees are variable, it is best to discuss any additional fees when exploring admission for your child. For families already with students enrolled, the Academic Support Coordinator identifies fees after the support plan is identified. Before support or tutoring begins, parents sign an agreement for the services, which are billed monthly.

How does support work in the Lower School?

In the Lower School, the homeroom teacher develops a thoughtful and caring relationship with each of our students. If questions arise involving specific areas that may need special attention, the teacher and Lower School Head, often with the input of the Learning Specialist, communicate these questions or concerns to the parents. By partnering together, we identify and begin to implement next steps, if any are needed.

We focus particular attention on developing strong readers so we divide each grade into smaller reading groups. This allows us to provide targeted reading instruction at each grade level. Students not reading at grade level in second and third grade receive specific support as they transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’. That support continues as needed in fourth and fifth grade, often replacing the foreign language classes.

Various strategies and programs are employed to instruct delayed readers, including targeted, individualized instruction in comprehension and fluency using such programs as the Wilson Reading Program (based on Orton-Gillingham methodology), Fundations, Em-Power, and Visualizing and Verbalizing. These approaches are ideal for students with mild dyslexia and other language-based learning interferences.

How does support work in Upper School?

In the Upper School, student support begins with our small advisory groups and extends to the watchful eyes of subject-specific classroom teachers. A specific study skills curriculum in grade six, followed by ongoing teaching of organizational skills in grades seven and eight, help all students internalize effective habits.

For students whose learning plans include additional support, we provide a combination of approaches. Often, such students qualify for a Language Waiver and receive a combination of small group and individual instruction in place of foreign language. If the required support is more extensive, we make every reasonable attempt to meet these needs within the schedule.

Will my child be treated differently by or separated from other Applewild students?

Applewild’s Core Values begin with the notion of Respect, and that permeates all that we do as a school. We respect each child’s learning, promoting an atmosphere in which all students can enjoy the learning process. We are a diverse community of learners, and all of our students are Applewild students.

Because of our focus on the right match, all students connect with each other in multiple ways in our program, all are capable, motivated and creative and all bring value to each other and to the community.