Learning disabilities are neurological conditions that affect cognitive processes, causing difficulty in learning. They can be evident in difficulty in performing basic mental tasks like writing, spelling, reading, listening or solving mathematical equations. Learning disability is not synonymous to intellectual disability or retardation. A child with a learning disability can be super intelligent.
If your child has a learning disability, he will need your support, love and encouragement because those psychological tools will inspire and instil in him the resilience, determination and self-regard he needs to succeed.
Listed below are strategies in which parents and educators can use to teach a child with a learning disability.
Focus on strengths, not weaknesses
One of the best ways to help your child to succeed is concentrating on his strengths, not his weaknesses. When you focus on your child’s weakness, you demotivate and demoralize him. When you focus on your child’s strength, it gives his esteem a boost and encourages him to do better.
Identify your child’s learning style
Every child has a unique way of learning. Some children learn best by doing (kinesthetic), others by listening(auditory), many more would prefer seeing(visual). Identifying your child’s learning style will help him understand and retain information better. It will also improve your child’s academic work. The major types of learning styles are visual, kinesthetic and auditory. When your child’s learning style is utilized in classroom and home study, you will begin to see remarkable progress in his educational pursuit.
Realistic goal setting
For any endeavour to be successful, you need to set goals. It is perfectly normal for you to have expectations regarding the progress of your child. But let those goals and expectation be realistic. If you set unrealistic goals that can pressure your child to underperform overwhelmingly, then the outcome would be abysmal. You can begin with short-term goals that consist of learning easy tasks like alphabet reading (for dyslexia), counting and subtracting (for dyscalculia) or buttoning a shirt (for dyspraxia). After some time, you can examine the progress made and make the necessary adjustments to those goals.
Shower praise on efforts
Praising every effort made by your child will motivate him. Even though your child may not have the highest scores or best grades, he has put in his very best, and you will have to acknowledge that. Did your child do something significantly different or try a new strategy or improve on his mistake? Praising those strides will give him the emotional support he needs.
Encourage intellectual curiosity
Experts believe curiosity is the driving force behind learning. Most children are naturally curious. They ask questions, explore learning experiences, make friends with nature, socialize, read books and play with toys. As children interact with their environment, they begin to thirst for knowledge about it.
If your child has a learning disability, he may not be an active learner, but there is a lot you can do to instil intellectual curiosity in him. For instance, you can draw his attention to simple but significant events. This will go a long way in triggering his inquisitiveness. You can show your child a bird’s nest down the street or the mystifying rainbow in the sky or the quiet but alluring moon.
Promote the reading culture
You can begin reading to your child. Introduce him to enchanting stories, poems and fables. Reading will not only improve your child’s social and communication skills but will stimulate imagination and curiosity in him. It may become necessary to reduce the language level if your child finds it difficult to understand what you are reading. Another way of encouraging early reading is by forming the habit of pronouncing signs and labels wherever you see them, so your child can imitate.
Keep your child healthy
Learning is a physical and mental activity. Your child will be better at paying attention and working hard if he eats a proper diet and gets an adequate amount of sleep.
Generally, children who are not sufficiently rested will always have a difficult time learning. Depending on age, children will need between eight to fifteen hours of sleep time. So you have to ensure your child gets quality sleep time by limiting screen time before bed.
Studies have shown the link between academic achievement and a nutritious diet. A meal rich with fruits, proteins, and vegetable will boost your child’s cognitive ability and brain development. So make sure your child eats a healthy meal at all times.