Teaching Children with Difficulties in Learning

Individually, we process and distinguishes information differently based on our perceptions, personality, patterns or experience, how we interact socially and a general like or dislike for the subject matter or interest. Generally, effective learning takes place when we learn subjects that we are interested in and often struggle in areas that we have no interest.

Unlike individuals with learning difficulties, they are often confronted by a mismatch in their learning style, lack of interest, attitude towards the subject matter or simply do not wish to learn. In contrast, individuals with learning difficulties faces significant difficulties in skills required for the individual to learn, such as speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or lack of sustain attention span. Therefore, coaching approach for individuals with difficulties in learning would most certainly be focused on behavioral and learning styles.

Some suggestions as follows:

  • Memory improvement basics. How a child thinks and the way they sense and perceive their surroundings often affects the way they learn. The connections to memory are also associated with our senses and perceptions creating a complex and often individualized process of learning and memory.
  • Keep learning and practicing new things. Interest plays a critical role in learning. When a student is interested in the topics or subjects they naturally learn and retain information at a higher rate. Helping your child develop a variety of interests will naturally increase their level of learning overall.
  • Learn in multiple ways. Research has shown that effective learning takes place when students receive and process information in a variety of ways.
  • Teach what you’ve learned to another person. Social interactions look at likely attitudes, habits, and strategies learners might take toward their work and how they engage with others when they learn. Learners can be independent, dependent, collaborative, competitive, participant or avoidant.
  • Utilize previous learning to promote new learning. According to Soviet psychologist and social constructivist Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) who developed the concept “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD), when a student is in the ZPD for a particular task, providing the appropriate assistance will give the student enough of a “boost” to achieve the task. This concept and the concept of scaffolding is widely used to promote new learning.
  • Gain practical experience. It’s much easier for children to remember what they learn when they get to experience it personally.
  • Look up answers rather than struggle to remember. Don’t push them too hard when they can’t remember something, it can cause stress to the brain. It doesn’t hurt to look it up and refresh your memory.
  • Understand how you learn best. You may want to start with understanding your individual patterns of learning and how those mentioned above affect how you learn.
  • Use testing to boost learning. Testing promote experiences and experiences makes it easier to remember.
  • Stop multi-tasking. Undivided attention is not good when trying to learn something. Please refer to our detailed write-up for multi-tasking.
  • Personality patterns focus on attention, emotion, and values. Understanding these differences allows you to predict the way your child might react and feel about different situations. From your perspective you can then try to understand the patterns of your child. The differences between you and your child or student are not necessarily wrong or right and you will most likely find their patterns are different, sometimes very different than your own. It’s important, however, to capitalize on what works for your child and to help them to utilize those patterns and learning styles toward a greater capacity to learn and remember.

Knowing how your child learns is one way to help them succeed. You should try to:

  • Teach the most difficult lessons using your child’s preferred learning style.
  • Reinforce lessons using multiple learning styles.
  • Help your child improve learning skills in the learning styles he or she is less comfortable with.

In some cases, this requires helping your children understand their own abilities. This may include teaching some compensation and coping techniques.

But aside from adjusting and finding the right learning style for children with difficulties, it is also important to consider how do we help them emotionally. In times of difficulties, children also suffer emotionally and below are ways on how we could guide and provide them support:

  • Highlight their strengths, not their weaknesses. Though, you must focus in their weak areas in terms of learning, it is also significant to recognize their strengths to boost their confidence and drive to learn more.
  • Let them play. Not only it can improve their social skills, it also prevents them from burning out.
  • Manage your expectations and set achievable goals for your children.
  • Avoid the labels. The mention of words such as “dumb” and “stupid” is no way helpful and only lowers their self-esteem.
  • Have an open communication with them. Talk to them about their feelings and their struggles. Encourage them to open-up.
  • Teach them the art of failing. Tell them that it’s okay to fail. They shouldn’t be afraid of failure and always try.
  • Never compare. Avoid comparing them to other children because It will make them feel bad about themselves.

Key in helping your child is patience, understanding, cultivating interest and building trust to help him/her succeed.  Find out what is suitable for them because not everything the book says might work for them. And lastly, do not hesitate to seek help.