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Differentiated vs. Individualized Instruction

July 14, 2021

Teaching is an art form that can be both complex and highly rewarding. While students differ in a myriad of ways from their strengths, backgrounds, needs, and interests, when teachers meet them at their skill level, it not only builds confidence but also invigorates teachers.

Many teachers “teach to the middle” which means they design their lesson plans for the average student. When teachers “teach to the middle”, higher and lower achieving students get left behind. Gifted students need more challenging activities while lower performing students need additional support. With both differentiated and individualized instruction, teachers determine the readiness of their students.

Teachers who use differentiated instruction tailor their teaching approach to match their students’ learning styles and meet more than one academic level. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, a teacher uses a variety of methods to teach, including teaching in small groups or one-on-one lessons. This allows teachers to focus more sharply on individual needs and better understand the abilities and needs of their students. Small class sizes allow teachers to give students the support they need to see who has mastered the skills of the lesson and is ready to move on, and who needs additional support.

Individualized instruction focuses on the needs of the individual student, placing more focus on student pacing. Teaching is specific and targets one need at a time, allowing students to move at their own pace. The learning objectives remain the same for all students, with specific objectives for students getting one-on-one support. Students participate in their learning by receiving direct instruction and guidance from the teacher as they progress through each learning module.

Columbia Academy Elementary and Middle School understands that children need to be met where they are academically and that students learn best when teachers differentiate instruction in response to that need. Using centers, whole-class, and small-group instruction, students are exposed to Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science, as well as specials including Technology, Music, Art, Spanish, and Physical Education. Our educators value child development and understand how to appropriately challenge each student, inspire them to think creatively, know the value of positive relationships, and create classroom cultures that support the growth of each individual, setting them up for success in school and in life.

Columbia Academy Preschools build strong academic foundations that are essential in challenging young minds to grow. Instruction is individualized to focus on the specific needs of each of our preschoolers, allowing them to move through the curriculum at their own pace. By incorporating learning experiences that are tailored to each child’s particular interests, strengths, and needs, children are more engaged and process those learning experiences in a more meaningful way.

Both differentiated and individualized instruction are structured to build students’ confidence and help learners at all levels meet higher standards while increasing their sense of community in the classroom. Our programs are tailored to support children with the method of instruction that best complements their age and stage, therefore individualizing instruction in our preschools and differentiating instruction in our elementary and middle school.

See 10 Questions to Ask on Your Private School Tour for some helpful tips.

For more information about our programs, contact us today at 410-312-5233.