It is so disheartening to find out that your child isn’t performing well academically. So many thoughts can race through your mind. You wonder if you did something wrong. You might even wonder if your child is intelligent.
But, most of the kids who have learning differences are truly bright and intelligent. They are just struggling to learn in a traditional academic setting. Usually these kids are verbal, articulate, and astute. Because of this you think that they should be performing better in school. You might think they are lazy. You might think they just aren’t trying hard enough.
Well, in some instances, this is true. But I haven’t met a student yet who truly didn’t want to do well in school. Defense mechanisms can kick in and get in the way of parents and teachers seeing this. But, truly, kids want to feel the glory of a wonderful report card and bask in the sunshine of pleasing their parents.
For some kids, learning with traditional methods just doesn’t work. It takes way longer for them to learn what others seem to be understanding in an instant. They try harder, work harder, and the outcome is the same. They are still behind , still struggling. What we have to understand is that for these students, learning is painful.
Learning should be fun. Children want to learn – they crave it actually. Most of our students love science. They enjoy the hands on experiments and understand the higher level concepts. But then, when they get a test, they fail it. You see, they had a break down when it came to pencil and paper. They just couldn’t learn that way.
Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? To know the information but not be able to prove it? Perhaps the words were swimming on the page. Maybe panic set in. Maybe the background noises in the classroom kept the student from concentrating.
Following are some suggestions for you if your child is one of those millions of kids who suffers from “painful learning”.
1. Don’t tell the student to try harder. This just makes the student go into fight of flight mode, where learning is even more difficult.
2. Consider a different school if your child’s school has a rigorous curriculum. There are charter schools and private schools that can offer different curriculums.
3. Understand that there is hope for the student who learns differently. The weak learning systems can be strengthened. We do it all of the time. With time and work, students can learn to function in a traditional classroom setting.
4. Don’t add more academics to your child’s schedule. If your child did not learn to read while sitting in school all day, then odds are that having him/her read some more at night is not going to help. The reading needs to be taught in a different manner for your child to learn to read. The same is true for all of the subjects.
5. Keep from over scheduling your child. A student who learns differently is working at capacity all day. When that student gets home, he/she is fatigued. Down time is of importance. This doesn’t mean constant television and video games, but it means park visits, play dates, and unstructured activities.
No matter what you do, please do something if you have a student who is a “painful learner”. Each year that an academic gap takes place, the learning gap widens and it takes longer to close.
by Lisa Harp