Willingness to learn
 
As with everything in life, we have to have a "want" to do something to do it well.  If children do not have a "want" to learn a particular thing, no amount of additional help or intervention will make much difference.  We have to encourage that "want" by making it interesting and enjoyable enough for a child to become engaged in the activity.  Often though, there are other reasons a child might be struggling and it is important that we investigate all possibilities to establish the possible cause of the problem. 

A lack of self belief and a fear of failure are some of the major reasons children can be poor performers when they have a learning difficulty.  If at an early age, children begin to think that they are not “getting it” like their peers, they often “shut down” or start to display inappropriate behaviours.

Low confidence and self esteem result in children being reluctant to take risks, attempt new things and  to learn from their mistakes.  They can become withdrawn; unwilling to participate in class discussions; aggressive or comical........in fact they will generally do anything to draw attention away from their perceived inabilities.

WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUAL IN THE WAY WE LEARN BEST

and

 need to be taught with a multi-sensory approach to discover strategies to use

 so that we have the opportunity

to

 open our minds to learning and to develop a belief that

WE CAN DO IT!

There are no miracle cures for learning difficulties but, if specific areas of difficulty are addressed early on and children are given strategies to use, these problems can be greatly reduced.  The main thing to remember is that it takes time and does not happen overnight but some of the keys to success are :

  Hear it               

                                                            See it         

 Say it  

                                                                                    Feel it                  

    

Do it

And     REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION.

 

FAMILY SUPPORT

  Many parents of children with specific learning styles have also experienced problems with learning during their own schooling! 

 Often they wrongly believe that their children will be no different..

We can’t read so we do not expect our kids to be able to!”        Some parents feel incapable of helping their children with homework......particularly those with dyslexia...and make excuses...because they don't want their children to know they themselves cannot read well.

We are just too busy to do reading at night!”      Yes, life is a lot busier these days, especially with more parents needing to work to pay the bills but it is possible to work homework into the daily routine with a bit of creativity..

THE BIGGEST GIFT A PARENT CAN GIVE TO THEIR CHILD, WHO IS STRUGGLING, IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

 TOO MANY PARENTS ARE IN DENIAL WITH THE VIEW :

“WE’RE NOT BRIGHT SO THEY WON’T BE.”

“THERE IS NO PROBLEM, THEY WILL BE FINE!”

“IT IS THE SCHOOL’S JOB TO FIX IT!”

“IT IS THE SCHOOL’S FAULT THAT THEY HAVE A PROBLEM”

As parents/care-givers, YOU are the primary educators of your child!

 

Ensuring a child with a learning problem gets the maximum amount of assistance they need is a joint effort by both the school and the family.  Without support from both sides, the child's progress will suffer significantly.   Do not be “fobbed” off if you believe your child needs help, persist until you get it.  If you really do not feel the school is supporting your child, look to moving them to a school that will.  Likewise, if a school is telling you that your child needs extra help, listen to them and follow their advice.  It is about working together in the best interests of your child.

1)          FIRSTLY acknowledge that there is a problem AND do not worry that it will demean your child or “label” them.  If they get the help they need, their self esteem and confidence will increase and they will be able to deal with other issues.  I have seen this over and over again and children love the concept that they are all very unique and learn differently.  (Refer to Different Learning Styles below).

2)            Discuss your concerns with the teacher and school.  The problem could be as simple as your child falling behind due to missed schooling for whatever reason and the need for some catching up.

3)          Identify particular areas your child is finding difficult 

4)          Rule out any auditory or visual problems by visiting a suitably qualified audiologist who also specialises in Central Auditory Processing Assessments and a Behavioural Optometrist.  (Normal eye tests do not pick up perceptual/processing issues.  A child can have 20/20 vision but a problem with the processing of information from the eyes to the brain requires specialised testing.  For example,   the eyes might not be working together when tracking text hence sending different information to the brain.  A child might have light sensitive issues (Irlen Syndrome) and the text starts to blurr or move on the page. Likewise, hearing can be perfect but if the ears are not working together, they will send different signals to the brain.     

5)            Allow the school to have your child professionally assessed if they  feel it necessary to determine if your child has a specific learning disability.  In some cases, funding can be applied for to provide additional assistance for your child in the form of an Aide, Speech Pathologist or Occupational Therapy sessions.

6)          Create an Individualised Learning Plan if the school does not have one already.  It will include the areas of difficulty eg :  short term memory with instructions to be kept short and simple. Inability to copy from the blackboard etc.  It will then specify what steps are to be taken to assist your child such as the modification of homework; sitting in a specific place in the classroom due to light/noise as well as things that can be done at home to help. 

7)    Encourage children to do things and think for themselvesNeural pathways in the brain are created from birth and these are vital to every aspect of a child's life from emotional to social to educational.    Some children who have been molly coddled just simply do not think for themselves as they have never been made to.  Being independent at school becomes an issue as they have no organisational skills and want to rely on other people to do everything for them.  I cannot emphasise enough how important this is.  As a mother, I understand how much easier it is for us to just get things done and know they are done properly but we are not doing our children a favour in the long run.  If you want your children to grow up to be independent and resilient young adults, involve them in the kitchen, housework and packing their own school bags (check it before it goes out the door but let them think about what they will need to have in it).

 If a child is having problems in a particular area, whether due to a learning difficulty or just missed information and these are addressed immediately, children will nearly always develop a positive attitude.  The majority of children want to learn and to please the adults in their lives.

Don’t let them get to the “shut down” stage where they can become :

 - the class clown who is always disrupting other students

- display sudden aggression and tantrums

- childish and give “baby” like responses when the focus of attention

- withdrawn and uncommunicative

- reluctant to participate in group or class sessions

- bossy or start bullying other children

- a defeatist and have a “I give up” attitude whenever faced with unfamiliar work.

 These behaviours need to be dealt with appropriately and the underlying cause of the frustration isolated as soon as possible as they may not always be academically related but could be socially motivated. 

The Individualised Learning Plan should have clear expectations of your child and consequences for actions and specific steps to be implemented to help with their learning both at school and at home.

 It is also really important to remember...................

 CHILDREN ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO WHAT OTHERS THINK OF THEM....particularly their family and teachers!

 DO NOT

MAKE NEGATIVE

COMMENTS ABOUT

THEIR ABILITY TO LEARN!!

I have seen children crushed by just one comment.  A comment that took seconds to make but years for that child to move on from.

“My mum said I am just stupid!”           “Dad said I will never grow up to be any good at anything".          "My parents said I should be more like my brother." 

Nearly all children have a strong desire to please and a want to learn and succeed............... please help them to be the best they can possibly be.

 Children grow up to be what their parents and teachers

tell them they are!    Author unknown

 

 

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