Parenting Is Hard – You are Not Alone – School Struggles/Learning Disabilities
When you plan on having children, school struggles and learning disabilities are most often far from our minds. It is certainly not something people talk about. Even parents of little ones, are often in the dark in terms of the reality of school struggles or learning disabilities. So our children go to preschool and grade school and they struggle. We look around and don’t see anyone else’s kids struggling. We don’t know who to talk to, we feel very alone, and we often feel very judged.
School Struggles and Learning Disorders are real, they do not affect everyone’s children, but they certainly are much more prevalent than one might think. If your child is struggling at school – struggling to learn in general you are not alone!
Our society is definitely talking about Learning Disabilities more than ever before and that is awesome. We need to continue to listen and learn, share and support. Let’s continue to bring this topic out of the shadows and into the light.
Below is some information from various leading sources on common school struggles and learning disabilities.
What causes learning disorders?
Factors that might influence the development of learning disorders include:
- Family history and genetics. A family history of learning disorders increases the risk of a child developing a disorder.
- Prenatal and neonatal risks. Poor growth in the uterus (severe intrauterine growth restriction), exposure to alcohol or drugs before being born, premature birth, and very low birthweight have been linked with learning disorders.
- Psychological trauma. Psychological trauma or abuse in early childhood may affect brain development and increase the risk of learning disorders.
- Physical trauma. Head injuries or nervous system infections might play a role in the development of learning disorders.
- Environmental exposure. Exposure to high levels of toxins, such as lead, has been linked to an increased risk of learning disorders.
Tips for dealing with your child’s learning disability
Keep things in perspective. A learning disability isn’t insurmountable. Remind yourself that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your child how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy, and endless paperwork distract you from what’s really important—giving your child plenty of emotional and moral support.
Become your own expert. Do your own research and keep abreast of new developments in learning disability programs, therapies, and educational techniques. You may be tempted to look to others—teachers, therapists, doctors—for solutions, especially at first. But you’re the foremost expert on your child, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools they need in order to learn.
Be an advocate for your child. You may have to speak up time and time again to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable, yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child.
Remember that your influence outweighs all others. Your child will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is likely to embrace your perspective—or at least see the challenges as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works for your child and implementing it the best you can.
Talking About Our School Struggles and Teaching our Kids How to Do the Same
It can sometimes be hard to talk to others about our struggles. Talking about School Struggles and Learning Disabilities is no different. Below is a good article on how to help your children learn to talk about their Disabilities and tips to help parents know how to talk to their teachers and others.
Tips for Helping Children with Learning Disabilities at Home
The first step is always understanding. It is important to remember that the population of children with learning disabilities is heterogeneous. The children are similar because they all have adequate hearing, vision, mental ability, and many strengths, but their specific disabilities and symptoms differ. Therefore, not all of the suggestions provided below are applicable, but we begin with general recommendations.
- Focus on the child’s strengths, not the weaknesses
Every child is unique; all can contribute to the joys of family life. Find special times and jobs that allow the child to contribute to the group.
- Set reasonable expectations
Try not to expect more than the child is capable of doing, but expect the best that he or she can produce, with and then without assistance. The child may need to be taught simple skills, and then complex tasks can be taught step by step, gradually reducing the supports as the child makes progress.
- Provide the guidance needed for independence
Climbing the steps on a sliding board requires some degree of sure-footedness, as well as visual and visual-motor skills. Crossing the street requires very careful visual scanning and time estimation. Some children with learning disabilities will need careful guidance and instruction in order to master these and other skills requiring attention and visual perception.
- Maintain consistent discipline
Give clear, simple explanations, particularly if children have language problems. They may not understand the vocabulary, lengthy instructions, and complex sentences used at home or in school. Our guideline is “firmness with warmth,” together with consistency.
- Foster intellectual curiosity
Try to excite children about the learning process. Parents and teachers who enjoy learning themselves can convey such an attitude to their children. Many infants and toddlers seem to be naturally curious as they look at objects, explore them, turn them, try to move them, etc., whereas others need guidance. Take a walk around the block, look at the trees and the bushes, feel the bark of the tree, smell the flowers. Look at the grass, the gravel, the cement and talk about what is hard, smooth, rough, and pretty.
- Help children classify and categorize objects
Many children naturally put groups of objects together because they are the same color or shape, or because of their use. If given blocks, toy cars, cups and saucers, they notice similarities and differences, a critical skill for all learning. However, some children with learning disabilities have problems with conceptualization. They do not notice similarities or observe the most relevant attributes. Parents can help with this categorization process when they go to grocery stores, parks, zoos, and other places to note how things in certain areas are similar. The important thing is to help children categorize, and reclassify objects so they become flexible thinkers.
What are the treatments for learning disabilities?
Learning disabilities have no cure, but early intervention can lessen their effects. People with learning disabilities can develop ways to cope with their disabilities. Getting help earlier increases the chance of success in school and later in life. If learning disabilities remain untreated, a child may begin to feel frustrated, which can lead to low self-esteem and other problems.1
Experts can help a child learn skills by building on the child’s strengths and finding ways to compensate for the child’s weaknesses.2 Interventions vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability.