Evidence-based strategies 

Evidence-based strategies are those that have been evaluated by researchers within school settings, and found to be effective.

Consider how you communicate

Simplify instructions and learning

Consider breaking down big tasks into smaller ones. For example, give step-by-step written and verbal instructions with visual supports (pictures). Other strategies include providing opportunities for the student to respond, using activity sequencing, and allowing choice. It is helpful to check their understanding before moving on to the next step or activity.

For example, some students may like to demonstrate their understanding by repeating instructions or answering questions.

Model tasks and the underlying strategies or thinking

Students may learn more effectively if shown how to do a task. Consider talking out loud to demonstrate the strategies you use to problem solve when working on the task.

Support students to self-manage

Set simple and clear goals

Consider letting students and their families choose goals. These could be short statements that describe positive and achievable behaviours that students understand. Check that the goals set include behaviours that can be seen and counted. For example, a goal might be handing in four items within a set time.

Teach self-reflection skills

Consider guiding students to problem solve so they can persist with school work instead of getting frustrated. For example, they can follow these steps mentally or think out loud: “What is the problem?”, “What are my options?”, “I think this is the best option”, “Am I following my plan?” and “How did I do it?”

Teach students how to self-monitor

Consider giving students a checklist of behaviours that they would like to work on (for example, raise their hand to ask a question). Prompt them to check off the list throughout the day. Focus on one behaviour at a time and set goals around achieving this so that the student experiences success. Access our self-monitoring form.

Use a home-school communication system

With family support, students can practise newly-learned skills outside the classroom. Communicate openly and often with parents or carers. Use a daily or weekly school update to monitor how a student is going with their goals. Provide support and encourage behaviours similarly in school and at home.

Make class structured

Clear expectations and routines help a student know what is planned for the day so that they know what to do if they have missed instructions. Consider using a daily visual schedule with a timer or clock that students can see at all times. Access our class schedule.

Routines that include specific times for students to organise their materials (for example, put things away, tidy up their belongings, pack their bag) and activities (for example, write in diary their homework or checklist of things to take home) may be particularly helpful.

Teach academic skills

Teach organisation strategies explicitly

Tools such as colour-coded books or folders, planners or checklists can be used to help students keep track of notes, books, homework, assignments and key dates. For example, a self-monitoring checklist for organising a desk or tub might include items such as “no loose papers or items” or “books are stacked together”. Similarly, specific coloured books for different subjects can help a student easily locate the correct book. 

Teach students how to plan and organise their work

It may be helpful to teach students how to use a diary or planner and to give them prompts when they need to write things down. Teachers can check and sign diaries or planners. For example, teach students to (i) write tasks to be completed on the left side of the planner, and tasks to be handed in on the right, (ii) divide their work into “to do”, “doing” and “done” groups, or (iii) write a checklist in their diary each day so they can tick off completed items and write in incomplete items for the next day.

Teach students how to break a task down

Some students may need to be shown how to break down projects and study into smaller tasks, and to manage their time. This may include teaching them how to define large tasks and the smaller subtasks, and scheduling these tasks so that they can complete the task by a set time.

Provide tools to help students get started on a task

Some students may find it difficult to plan how to respond to a given task, and therefore may find getting started on the task challenging. Visual storyboards may help some students plan out a story, and writing a list of key points for an assignment may help some students organise their thoughts. Some students may respond well to discussion around the different directions they can take a task in, while others may find problem solving or “key questions to ask myself” helpful. Considering a student’s learning profile and the nature of the activity can help identify which supports may be best suited to a student’s strengths and abilities.