Date
20 November 2019

Create structure in a flexible environment

A well-organised and highly structured classroom minimises the impact of cognitive demands to process and interpret new information.

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Classroom layout

Classroom layout

Justine Henderson, Learning Support Coordinator at Berhampore School, explains how the classroom layout is used flexibly to respond to the varying needs of all students.

Create structure in a flexible space

Create structure in a flexible space

Set up your environment to minimise students' cognitive load.

Providing support for students' specific needs enables them to work more independently.

Structure and consistent routines

Structure and consistent routines

Structure helps ease the stress created by constant change.

A consistent routine supports independence and reduces anxiety and stress.

Minimise distractions

Minimise distractions

Minimise auditory and visual distractions to help diminish the confusion and frustration many students with FASD experience, and maximise their ability to focus on the task at hand.

Reduce visual distractions

  • Strategically place the student’s seat away from distractions, such as doorways and windows.
  • Clear the student’s desk of everything, except the lesson at hand.
  • Put away (or out of view) teacher’s equipment and books competing for a student’s attention.

Reduce auditory distractions

  • Seat student closest to where you present information.
  • Seat student next to students who do not distract others.
  • Provide nonverbal cues that are familiar to the student to help them stay focused and working quietly, for example: use hand signals, move close to student.
  • Create quiet spots in your classroom.

Source: Understanding fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: A comprehensive guide for pre K-8 educators (opens in a new tab/window)

Agree guidelines for behaviour

Agree guidelines for behaviour

Develop a class treaty/norms/rules with the students.

  • Use clear, concrete language.
  • Agree on 3–4 positively stated rules.
  • Display the classroom rules.
  • Use picture cues.
  • Review rules regularly with the class.
  • Role-play classroom rules.
  • Use consistent vocabulary when teaching and reinforcing rules.
  • Apply the rules consistently.
  • Apply agreed consequences immediately when behaviour expectations are not met.

Source: Understanding fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: A comprehensive guide for pre K-8 educators (opens in a new tab/window)

Useful resources

Useful resources

File

Environment: For learners with FASD and other complex learning needs

Publisher: POPFASD

Download PDF

Reach to teach Educating elementary and middle school children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Reach to teach: Educating elementary and middle school children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Publisher: Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC

Download PDF

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Helpful classroom strategies years 1-8”:

Return to the guide “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and learning”

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