If your child has recently been diagnosed with a learning disability it’s completely natural to feel insecure about many things. Discovering that your child has a learning disability can bring on a mix of emotions, from fear to feelings of guilt or despair. You may have had many questions and different reactions. Did you immediately begin to worry about how they will cope with all the challenges that life brings? Did you seek professional help for your child but you’re still not sure what you can do to help them at home? Psychologists and psychotherapists at Clinic Dr. Bita have some practical tips for supporting your child’s learning.
Focus on their strengths
Many parents of children with learning disabilities ask what they can do at home to help their youngsters. Generally, the first step is to try to understand the child’s difficulties and to consider how these can impact your child’s coping skills, communication, discipline, play and independence. It is just natural to focus on weaknesses and try to improve them. However, the best next step is to focus on the child’s strengths in order to build on them, encourage the child, and improve self-esteem and confidence.
Try to work together with your child to figure out what they feel good about doing, whether it’s sports, singing, painting, etc. and then provide more opportunities for them to develop these talents, as this can help them build confidence in other areas too.
Find out how your child learns best
Everyone— with or without learning disability or not—has their own unique learning style. Some people learn best visually by seeing or reading, others by listening, and still others by doing. You can help a child with a learning disability by identifying their primary learning style. Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner? Once you’ve figured out how they learn best, you can take steps to make sure that his/her type of learning is reinforced in the classroom and during home study.
Encouragement and self-directed learning
By self-directed learning we mean allowing the individual to be responsible for certain aspects of the learning including how much material is covered in a session and how much time is spent on a given unit. Modular courses in which learning is broken down into small sections are helpful in this aspect because they allow children to proceed at a pace that is right for them, repeating material and reviewing when necessary. Keeping track of their progress, setting goals and working towards them, and prioritizing different aspects of their studies, are important skills for a child to develop. Pride in achievement and a boost in self-esteem and confidence comes with more responsibility.
Praise effort over performance
Children with learning difficulties may not always achieve high marks but if they’ve put in a lot of effort, it deserves recognition. You may wish to focus on the child’s study strategy or approach to the assignment. It can take a lot of courage to try a new approach and it’s important to keep them motivated regardless of the outcome in terms of percentages and grades.
Put things in perspective
To children with specific learning difficulties it can seem like achieving a perfect score on an Assessment a near impossible goal. Reminding them that perfection isn’t important and mistakes are a part of learning can make a big difference. When a child begins to embrace their mistakes and use them to guide more targeted study, it’s less likely to attribute errors to any personal failings or deficits. This makes it easier to maintain a positive and healthy self-image.
Give them time
It can take time for an intervention to work and for new strategies and skills to be acquired. Focus on long-term goals and break larger tasks down into milestones that can be spaced out over a period of time. Keep reminding your child that effort and approach count more than the time taken to complete something.
Look at the big picture
All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough. In searching for ways to help children with learning disabilities, remember that you are looking for ways to help them help themselves. Parent’s job is to provide your child the social and emotional tools they need to work through challenges. In the long run, facing and overcoming a challenge such as a learning disability can help your child grow stronger and more resilient.
Author: Maja Babic
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are not to be misinterpreted as medical, clinical, or any other professional advice. The views expressed are opinions and / or ideas founded on research and clinical experience. These views are meant to provoke awareness and inquiry into various issues, and thus, create an open-minded dialogue, civil discussion, and respectful debate among our readers. Any claims made are subject to change should new studies be conducted that disprove these claims.
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Helping Children with Learning Disabilities
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Psychologists and psychotherapists at Clinic Dr. Bita have some practical tips for supporting your child’s learning.