Children with moderate learning difficulties (also known as global learning difficulties) have a general developmental delay. They have difficulties with learning across all areas of the school curriculum

Children with MLD comprise the largest group of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Many of these children have a delay of about three years and consequently need a high level of support within the mainstream classroom.

Many children with moderate learning difficulties will also be suffering from low levels of self-esteem and motivation. They may become resentful and refuse to attempt new work as they perceive themselves to be likely to fail before they start. It is likely that they will become over-reliant on teaching assistants to help them with tasks and they will need much encouragement and praise to persuade them to attempt new challenges which are within their capability and develop greater independence.

  • have immature listening/attention skills
  • have immature social skills
  • rely on a teaching assistant to direct them within the class situation
  • have a poor auditory memory
  • have a poor visual memory
  • have difficulty acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills
  • have difficulties with comprehension skills
  • need a high level of support with investigation and problem-solving activities
  • have poor verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills
  • have difficulties with applying what they know to other situations
  • have some motor coordination difficulties.

You may need to:

  • provide teaching assistant support at the beginning and end of a lesson, but encourage children to work independently whenever possible
  • ensure that learning activities are broken down into small steps and are clearly focused
  • simplify, differentiate or abbreviate class tasks
  • provide a multisensory approach to learning
  • provide activities to develop motor skills
  • use visual and concrete materials to aid understanding
  • keep language simple and familiar in guided group work
  • make use of songs, rhymes and rhythm to aid learning sequences (eg. alphabet, days of the week)
  • keep instructions short and concise
  • ask children to repeat instructions in order to clarify understanding
  • provide alternative methods of recording eg. labelled pictures, diagrams, flow charts
  • ensure repetition and reinforcement within a variety of contexts
  • allow extra time to complete a task
  • monitor and record progress so that each small achievement is recognised
  • organise activities to develop listening and attention skills eg. sound tapes
  • practise a range of sequencing activities eg. pictorial activity or story sequences, word and sentence sequences, days, months and number sequences
  • develop role play and drama activities including the use of finger and hand puppets to aid the understanding of new concepts
  • help children organise their written work by using writing frames 
  • praise every effort and successful achievement of new skills.

National Pyramid Trust