In last week’s blog article Learning is hard: 5 signs that your child struggles with their learning (Article Here), we discussed some signals that parents can watch for if/when their child experiences difficulties with learning and school. These signs may or may not indicate that your child has a learning disability (i.e. dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, etc.), and that further investigation is required. HelpGuide.org features a comprehensive list of the types of learning disorders and their signs.
What can you do as a parent if your child finds learning hard? According to Susan Schenk, author of Beyond Ok from Invisible to Invincible, there are 7 key strategies you can utilize at home. Susan’s book takes you inside the world of learning differently and what that means as a child, a university student, a professional and as a parent. These are the initial steps in helping to identify that there is a problem and what you can do to support your child.
7 ways to best support your child when learning is hard:
- Listen (and be real!): Get on their level and listen to their concerns with a patient ear. Eliminate any shame they may be feeling regarding being different
- Observe: Look for your child’s strengths and weaknesses and discover what it is they are specifically struggling with. Tap into their strengths (i.e. what techniques or activities do they enjoy the most?) and encourage them to further develop those strengths, and not to focus on the weaknesses only
- Model what to do: Allow your child to learn through observing you. Model exactly what it is you want them to do which gives them the opportunity to watch without the pressure of a classroom environment (i.e. show them how to do a basic math exercise like times tables using your fingers, etc.). Showing them how to do things different ways in the comforts of their home with ease andy anxiety they may have about certain school subjects
- Set Priorities: What area needs your attention now? Focus on specific areas one step at a time and set goals along the way. Improving on all areas at once will not be effective and will create a negative experience for both you and your child. Priorities for families will change over time (i.e. emotionally, academically, physically, etc.) and focusing on the most important area first is a good start!
- Support & Success: Offer the support they need to be successful when learning. For example, allowing them to access resources that will enable them to achieve higher level processing skills (i.e. giving your child a calculator or a times table while working on more complex multiplication problems). This gives them support to be successful which in turn boosts confidence.
- Give them the Tools: What tools will allow your child to work successfully and possibly independently? Perhaps using an Ipad to make learning more interactive and investigating the best educational apps. Hiring a tutor is also a good way to nurture and support their diverse learning styles and improve self-esteem outside of the classroom
- Engage with Them: Remember, you are not the teacher! Take the pressure off you and your child and figure out ways to engage them in learning that fits them and is FUN! Using non-traditional methods help students who otherwise struggle with conventional classroom techniques. For example, if a student has trouble writing ideas down on paper, using other methods to create is key (i.e. have your child create a video explaining their ideas first, then work on getting those ideas down on paper). Small steps first, building up skills into more complicated tasks
Allowing students to reach their potential is only attainable when the efforts of parents AND educators come together. Removing the shame from learning difficulties and recognizing when our children are struggling with their learning are two key factors in a student’s overall academic success.
Starting at home and using some strategies to support your special student will result in a more positive educational experience! For more information on learning difficulties, check out Beyond the Classroom’s webinar featuring Susan Schenk by clicking here.