We all want the best for our family, but raising a child with a learning disability can be challenging and overwhelming. Besides plenty of patience, support and lots of love, raising a capable and confident child may also require additional effort and help.
Learning disabilities range from dyslexia to ADHD, and they can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing or doing math.
They have no cure, but early intervention and proper support can significantly lessen their effect. Below we shared some tips for helping children with learning difficulties.
1. Set Reasonable Goals
There’s a tendency among teaching staff and parents to encourage children to dream big and reach for the stars.
However, regardless of how motivating and beneficial this attitude can be, it may also set unreasonable and unrealistic goals for children who suffer from different learning disabilities and difficulties.
That is why there needs to be a balance between fostering their imagination and ambition and accustoming them to reality checks. Teaching children where to draw the line and helping them set goals within their reach and abilities is key.
This way, you’ll make sure their dreams are reachable, instead of supporting unrealistic expectations which can lead to disappointment.
2. Get “Extra Help”
Most children do not get the support they need at school due to time and resource constraints. This results in “knowledge gaps” which become bigger over time, and reflect badly in their academic progress.
Certain learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can make it more difficult or even impossible for a child to achieve the same results as their peers in a traditional classroom setting.
This is why some “extra help” in the form of online tutoring is sometimes necessary for building up their confidence and knowledge in order to make sure they catch up with the class. Extra help is more than welcome in these cases
3. Praise Effort Over Performance
As previously noted, children with learning disabilities and difficulties often have to invest more energy and time than their peers in order to achieve high marks at school.
This is why it’s of crucial importance not to compare their achievements with their peers’ and to put an emphasis on praising their effort instead of results.
Teachers should focus on the child’s study strategy and parents should make sure to be supportive in their child’s approach to the assignment or test preparation. Indirect praise, such as stars or badges can be a fun and helpful motivational tool.
Even in cases when they fail to achieve the desired grades and recognition, their effort should be praised and rewarded – otherwise, they could become extremely demotivated and discouraged.
4. Provide Inspirational Role Models
Children with learning disabilities often feel inferior to their peers, which reflects negatively in their day-to-day functioning and seriously decreases their self-confidence.
Therefore, it’s important for both parents and teachers to provide children with high-achievers they can identify with.
There are plenty of success stories of various public figures, including scientists, athletes and celebrities who have managed to overcome the challenge posed by learning difficulties and disabilities.
Pick up a biography, look for a video or just tell them a story about someone you think your child may relate and look up to. This can significantly boost their self-esteem and thus contribute to their overall motivation and progress as well.
Although it’s a lifelong challenge, people with learning disabilities can develop various coping mechanisms to deal with their limitations, especially if they’re provided with proper support and assistance from their early age.
Providing initial assistance and then gradually reducing the support and giving room to their independent progress is the key to helping children with learning difficulties.
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Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.