…And What You Can Do About It!
At one time or another in their academic lives, all students will face obstacles that are too hard for them to manage alone. Sometimes those obstacles come in the form of learning disabilities, sometimes in other forms.
But a crucial first step in conquering any obstacle is accurate assessment of what the obstacle is. The very same behaviors can be symptoms of very different problems—so the key is remembering that accurate diagnosis relies on observation of a pattern of symptoms, not any single symptom itself. Think of it this way. If your car has an oil leak, no matter how many times you change the spark plugs, the problem will not go away.
- Remember first and always that your child is perfect just the way he is. No child is lazy. No child wants to struggle. No child wants to fail. You are his number one ally—not his adversary. Any struggles he may have with reading or writing or math is not a reflection on you as a parent.
- Rule out the most obvious contributors to why your child is struggling first. Have his or her vision and hearing checked. Many children who suffer from frequent ear infections as infants and toddlers often have difficulty with hearing and pronouncing the distinct sounds letters make, the first step after learning the alphabet on the way to learning to read.
- When hungry or tired or not feeling well, adults have trouble sustaining focus. That’s even more true for children. Make sure that all basic physiological needs of your child are met when you work with your child, especially on those tasks with which he or she may be having difficulty. Notice what time of day your child is most alert—schedule schoolwork during those times if at all possible. Provide plenty of time for physical activity—the younger the child, the more breaks should be taken.
- If struggling continues, ask your pediatrician or other professional for a referral for educational testing to assess for the presence of a learning disability.
No matter what the obstacle, the problem for struggling students is that they haven’t learned skills or facts that form the foundation on which increasingly complex concepts and skills are based—and the gaps they have are nobody’s fault—especially not theirs. In most cases, children know there is something wrong—they can tell by your reactions—but they don’t have the ability to figure out what’s wrong and fix it.
If a child is struggling to learn, there’s an obstacle in his way
There’s only one goal of education—to ensure that children learn what they need in the way of knowledge and skills to thrive in life and the workplace. Period. If it isn’t happening, it is the responsibility of educators, whether teachers in a public or private school or parents in a homeschooling environment, to find out why and assist them in developing strategies to eliminate or overcome. As we said above, the first step is determining what those obstacles are. Following are links to descriptions of the obstacles we at STRONG Learning have encountered in our 40 years of working with students and recommendations for how you can help your child eliminate the obstacles or learn inspite of them:
All content adapted from Linda and Al Silberts’ award-winning book
Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids