“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
– Ignacio Estrada Many kids with learning disabilities face a lot of challenges in school long before they are diagnosed. This has an impact on the self-esteem and motivation of a child. Parents need to understand how to recognise signs of a learning disability and what they can do to support their child. Kids with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence. As the problem can snowball, early intervention is of paramount importance. Children who have learning disabilities can also experience performance anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or lack of motivation. While placing children in school, parents should never minimize the role they play in helping their children learn at each level. The support that you provide as a parent, will help your child build self-confidence which is needed to achieve success throughout their lives. With patience and positive attitude, you can help them learn to overcome the challenges they may encounter. Kids with learning disabilities, who learn and think differently, require extra help and instruction that are specialized for them. The more you know about your child’s disability, the more you can help your child.
1. Regular communication with your child’s teacher
Parents play a very important role in a child’s education. They need to be actively involved and take charge of their child’s education. Don’t sit back and let someone else be responsible for providing your child the tools which they require to learn. Through regular communication, exchange information with your child’s teacher periodically and develop an educational plan to address your child’s needs.
2. Identify your child’s learning style:
A learning disability is nobody’s fault, and getting the right kind of support can make a positive difference for your child. Every child is different and has its own unique style of learning. Some children learn best by seeing (visual learners), some by listening (auditory learners) and some by doing (kinaesthetic learners). Parents can help their kids with a learning disabilities by identifying their primary learning style and reinforcing the same at home.
3. Appreciate your child’s effort
Kids with learning disabilities need careful guidance and instructions to master the skills required to be independent. When parents praise their child for their efforts in doing a task, the child learns to appreciate the success of his/her efforts and attributes failure “for not trying enough”. This makes the child focus more on putting in an effort in practicing and improving skills. They are motivated to try again and improve their performance.
4. Set a routine
Parents should try to ensure that learning is fun and exciting. This can be done by setting a routine for the child. A child with a learning disability takes more time to complete his/her school work. Provide breaks to the child while doing school work to allow the child to relax and re-focus. It is important to schedule a time for your child’s favourite activity like reading books or playing games together. This creates good family bonding and promotes self-esteem.
5. Engage the child in early literacy activities
Literary activities refer to many oral language, reading, and writing activities, all of which are intertwined. Sometimes, kids with learning disabilities in language disorders do not like reading because they cannot process all the information. Parents should read for the child so that the child can comprehend. While reading, the parents should stop periodically and ask the child questions about the story.
6. Inculcate curiosity
Parents can develop a spirit of inquiry by guiding the child’s auditory and sensory learning. One does not need fancy gadgets to excite children. A walk around the neighbourhood, exploring nature, showing excitement and curiosity about simple events around the world, can do wonders for a child’s imagination.
7. Keep them motivated
Always choose a topic which interests your child. Explain why a particular task is worth doing. Plan your day in such a way that fun activities are used to make the task interesting for the child.
8. Goal setting
Parents need to keep long-term goals in mind. They need to break larger tasks into smaller and manageable goals. You can start a task by first deciding what needs to be done, identify each small step involved, and assign a timeline to each goal. This will help the child to be organised. Parents can adopt this strategy according to the child’s style of working, learning and concentration levels.
9. Join support groups
Support groups provide a platform to parents of children with learning disabilities. These groups provide an unbiased environment to parents to share their experiences, suggestions, strategies, emotional support and build friendships together. Parents need time out and opportunities to talk with parents dealing with similar problems. Remember, you and your child are not alone in this journey.
10. Focus on strengths approach
Parents should remember that a learning disability represents only one area of weakness in a child. Nonetheless, there are many more areas of strengths that define the child. Focusing on weaknesses will decrease the child’s motivation to do better. Parents can help their child maximize his/her skills, talents and positive qualities they possess. All children can make progress, but the speed and amount of improvement varies. Try to build on the child’s strengths to build his or her sense of self -confidence. As a parent of kids with learning disabilities, there will be times when you will feel helpless and think that you might never see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the time to give yourself a reality check, that your job is not to cure the learning disability but provide your child with social and emotional support. Give them the gift of your precious time. Give them love, encouragement and support. Positive reinforcement will give your child hope and confidence that things can improve and they will eventually succeed. Remember, progress is progress, no matter
Learning disabilities cannot be cured, but they can be treated successfully and children with LD can go on to live happy, successful loves. – Anne Ford.
Author: Ms. Simran Wadhi Teaching Faculty – Senior School, The Aditya Birla Integrated School