All children need love, support, and encouragement, and for children with learning difficulties, this kind of positive reinforcement can help guarantee that they grow up with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the will to persevere even in the face of adversity.
Always remember that your actions and reactions to difficulties have a big impact on your child. A good attitude will not solve the problems associated with a learning difficulty, but it can give your child hope and confidence that things will get better and that they will eventually succeed.
Helping children cope with learning challenges is not an easy task, to say the least. As a parent or caregiver, children with a learning disability requires perpetual love, understanding, patience, motivation, and support.
Being the pillar of support for your struggling child, your duty as a parent is to augment your youngster’s coping mechanism. While approaching the issue in a positive light won’t let your child’s learning disorder magically disappear, it can make his or her journey less burdensome.
The goal is to determine your child’s difficulties and how these impact their communication skills, discipline, play, and independence. Amid these weaknesses, help your child develop self-esteem, a sense of self-worth, and the determination to work through the tough challenges that lie ahead.
Let’s find out how you can help your child gain emotional and social tools to help them overcome learning difficulties:
1. Know the Signs
Many children with learning challenges find the academic demands of school too daunting, forcing them to behave negatively in school. Unfortunately, most cases reman undiagnosed for several years, being that not many educators and parents are aware of the signs of learning issues. For instance, a child struggling with dyslexia may exhibit difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, often leading to frustration and negative behavior in the academic setting. By raising awareness about the signs of learning issues, educators and parents can collaborate to identify and address challenges such as dyslexia in kids at an early stage. This will foster for kids with dyslexia or any other learning difficulty a supportive environment for their educational journey.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This captures the multidimensional nature of intelligence in humans. Bearing this quote in mind, recognizing and perceiving the strengths of a child with a learning difficulty and, through dedication in nurturing these strengths will develop exceptional skills that will enable the child to stand out among their peers.
If your child exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have learning difficulties:
- Delayed development (i.e., can’t keep up with peers in terms of reading, spelling, writing or math knowledge or mastery)
- Struggles to follow instructions
- Has memorization problems
- Lack of motor skills or coordination
- Absent mindedness (i.e., misplaces and loses things in school or at home)
- Don’t have a concept of time
- Inability or refusal to complete school assignments, especially if it involves reading, writing, or math problems.
- May react strongly against doing academic activities
If you suspect your child as having learning challenges, start by finding out more about the condition. The next step involves a comprehensive evaluation done by specialists, which may include taking your child’s development history, tests for mental capabilities, as well as various motor and cognitive skills, according to Dr. Doris Johnson, former Chair of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) Professional Advisory Board.
2. Do Your Homework
Everyone has a unique learning style, whether with a learning difficulty or not. Some people learn best by seeing or reading, others by listening, and others by doing. You can help a child with a learning difficulty by identifying their primary learning style. Once you have figured out how they learn best, you can take steps to make sure that type of learning is reinforced in the classroom and during home study.
Do your homework and stay up to date on current advancements in educational strategies, therapies, and programs for people with learning disabilities. You might initially seek advice from others like teachers, therapists, and doctors. But you as parents are the foremost expert on your child, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools they need to learn.
Use online and offline sources in learning more about your child’s condition. Become familiar with some programs, support groups, updates in new therapies, and teaching modalities for children with learning challenges. As the primary caregiver, try to learn as much as you can about the condition. Discover the specific methods and tools that can help your child overcome his or her disability.
Online, there’s a horde of materials about dealing with children with learning challenges. Just by typing in “how to help a child with reading difficulties,” you can access several useful online resources. Otherwise, seek the help of professionals and experts to help you out.
3. Seek Professional Help
There are healthcare professionals and academic specialists trained to handle children with learning challenges. Keeping in touch with them may help improve your child’s academic performance. Here are the means by which they can help:
- Individualized education program (IEP). Once a student is diagnosed for a learning disorder, public schools in the United States are required to assist the learner through individual education program (IEP). The program defines learning objectives and services to assist the student in coping with the academic demands.
- Specialists can help your child overcome his or her challenges. For instance, an occupational therapist can improve your child’s motor skills, while a speech-language therapist can aid your child who’s suffering from language processing disorder.
- A psychiatrist or clinical psychologist can recommend the proper treatment for your child by prescribing medicines to manage depression, anxiety, or attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder.
In addition, you may have to speak up repeatedly to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. Even though it could be difficult at times, you can help your child greatly by keeping composed, reasonable, and firm.
4. Know the Learning Environment that’s Most Conducive to Your Child
A favorable learning environment can help boost your child’s learning progress. To provide the most conducive learning environment, find out your child’s learning style such as the following:
- Visual learners – These individuals learn best by seeing. That being said, your learning materials should comprise of visually appealing tools, including written notes, diagrams, charts, maps, and pictures. You can also use various worksheets for kindergarten that are easily available online.
- Auditory learners – They absorb information by listening. In the classroom, these students lean toward oral reports, tests, and spoken discussions.
- Kinesthetic learners – Learners of this type understand better by doing, moving, touching, exploring, and creating something. Hands-on activities, show and tell, as well as field trips work best for these students.
More so, your child is not defined by their learning disability. Focus on your child’s abilities and capabilities. Your child’s life and schedule shouldn’t revolve around the learning problem. Nurture the activities where they excel, and make lots of time for them.
5. Keep Your Child Motivated
Learning disabilities can push your child to get frustrated and detest going to school and participating in school activities altogether. To make sure that your youngster is encouraged to attend school and participate in classroom activities, make sure that your learner has good relationships with his or her peers and that your child’s teacher takes proper care of the student with special needs.
To further promote confidence and self-esteem, ask him or her what he loves doing best outside the classroom. Consider having your children attend extracurricular activities and school clubs. Enlist them to become members of cause-oriented organizations.
Moreover, it can be challenging to motivate a child to learn when he or she feels inferior in a particular subject area. That is why it is better to choose lesson topics that are already of interest to a child. Explain why a task is worth doing and allow them to have a choice in how or what they study. You might also create reward schemes or plan your day so that fun activities are used to break up more challenging tasks.
6. The Sandwich Method
To children with specific learning difficulties, it can appear like achieving a perfect score on an assessment tool is a near-impossible goal. You can tell them that perfection is not important and mistakes are a part of learning. When a child begins to embrace mistakes, he or she is less likely to attribute errors to any personal failings or deficits. This makes it easier to maintain a positive and healthy self-image.
Another way to keep your child motivated is to let him or her perform difficult tasks in between easier tasks. If your child prefers reading over solving math problems, start your study sessions by answering reading assignments. Halfway through, switch to math tasks, then finish the reading session.
Doing this allows your child to get hooked in answering topics he or she finds challenging, while moving on and ending the session with your child’s preferred subject helps conjure positive feelings in your child.
Don’t forget to recognize your learner’s effort, even if the answers are not perfect. Be generous with praises over your child’s hard work. At the same time, allow for short breaks while studying to allow your child to rest and prevent burn out.
7. Teach your child to handle stress
Observe your child’s reactions, and recognize the signs of stress. Children react differently when stressed, so watch out for signs such as sleeplessness, feeling fidgety or antsy, or shutting down. Help your child identify when he or she is stressed too. Let your learner engage in activities to de-stress.
Your kid will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is more likely to embrace your perspective or at least see the challenges as speed bumps rather than obstacles. Focus your energy on figuring out what works for your child and doing your best to apply it.
Also, children can benefit from anecdotes that help them relate to different aspects of the learning process. Teachers can explain how they dealt with their least favorite subjects or worked around material that proved particularly challenging. Sharing experiences helps to build a bond with a child, making it more likely they will open up to you about their feelings.
What Are Some Concrete Examples of Learning Disabilities?
People with disabilities are wired differently than other people. That’s why they face challenges in learning particular skills or perform poorly in academics, according to an article written by Kathryn Drummond, Ph.D., a research analyst at The Access Center.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America classifies the following conditions as learning difficulties:
- Central auditory processing disorder – Children with this condition will have problems dealing with sounds.
- Dyslexia – A language-based learning disability that impacts reading fluency and comprehension, writing, spelling, and speech.
- Dysgraphia – A leaning condition that affects fine motor skills and handwriting, dysgraphia may manifest in children who’s struggling to write properly.
- Dyscalculia – As the name implies, a child with this condition has impaired math skills and may have difficulties telling the time.
- Language processing disorder – A learning disorder related to Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), this condition makes it difficult for persons to form words and sentences, as well as process expressive and receptive language.
- Nonverbal learning difficulties – This condition makes it hard for the sufferer to interpret body language and facial expressions.
- Visual perceptual / visual motor deficit – A person with this condition has a skewed understanding of visual information and may struggle with hand and eye coordination, among other motor skills.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let learning disabilities define your child. It may be difficult, but not impossible to teach your kid to overcome learning difficulties.
While finding ways to help him or her cope up with this weakness, don’t forget to play up his or her strengths too. Children with learning disabilities should enjoy their lives too. As a parent, you must allow them to follow their passion for better success.