All children need love and attention. For kids with learning disabilities, positive reinforcement such as words of encouragement and support can help them feel a strong sense of self-worth and have the determination to keep going even when things get tough. Learning disabilities emotionally affect the child and produces a ripple effect on family, friends, teachers, and peers at school. Children with learning disabilities often absorb what others unthinkingly say about them, even when it was not said to them. They are most likely to believe themselves to be “behind” or “different.” It is always important to speak kindly, and hopefully, with these tips, we can help them build self-confidence and find success at school, and in life.
When searching for ways to help children with learning disabilities, it is important to remember that the goal is to look for ways to help them help themselves. Your role as a teacher or parent is not to “cure” the learning disability, but to provide them with the social and emotional tools they need to work through challenges.
How Parents Can Help at Home
Students with learning disabilities usually learn better when they get organized. Each individual needs to find their own unique way to organize time, schoolwork, and personal matters. They may need help in finding a way to organize what works best for them. Take the time to sit down and discuss with them their concerns and build a suitable schedule (together) for them to get about their day. It would also be a great help if parents can get them a calendar and a daily planner or journal.
Parents can also scout for easier books to read that cover the same concepts in their syllabus. This can be done by bringing them to a few public libraries which can also help save some costs. This way the students have a wide range of choices to check out and can easily return or renew them. Parents can also keep a lookout for other media that present relevant information needed for school. These include film strips, videos, movies, and audio tapes. For instance, if they are interested in taking up reading but are too distracted to sit down and peruse physical pages of a book, they can opt to listen to audiobooks for a start.
How Teachers Can Help in the Classroom
Students with a learning disability usually do better in the classroom with teachers who provide high structure and give clear instructions. It is also helpful when teachers enunciate more slowly, speak shorter sentences, use simpler words and repeat important facts. It would also be beneficial for the students if they were given test-taking accommodations, such as an untimed test, oral tests, or taking the test on a computer.
Being able to take notes on what the teacher says can also improve their learning experience. Teachers can provide leniency and allow extra help since jotting down each and every word would be impossible to do. Perhaps they could use a tape recorder for note-taking or get copies of the teacher’s or classmates’ notes. This way, they can listen back to the recording as much as they like or re-read the notes to keep up with the class if they felt left out.
Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses
Children with learning disabilities and attention disorders may have trouble making friends with peers. For children with ADHD, this might be due to their impulsive behavior. Some children with delays may feel more comfortable playing with younger children who are at the same level as them and this is when they have trouble fitting in with children their age. However, a learning disability only represents one area of weakness. There are many other areas of strength that can be focused on. Every student is different, with learning disabilities or without, and it is crucial to acknowledge their unique set of gifts and talents.
Your influence outweighs everything else
Children learn by example and they will surely follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism and persistence, they are most likely to embrace your perspective. Teach them how to deal with obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Demonstrate to them that whenever there is a will, there will always be a way. Giving your child or student plenty of emotional and moral support is key to helping them build their sense of self-worth and confidence.
Ways for you to cope
Whenever in doubt, always seek help. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows no matter how hard you try to be optimistic. Sometimes you can’t help but feel drained or emotionally attached. Counseling can be very helpful to people with learning disabilities and helps their families too. Talking with a counselor allows family members to let out their feelings as well as get support and reassurance. Many parents find that joining a support group can be very helpful. Support groups are a place for mutual understanding and can be a source of information as well as practical suggestions.
You can find more information on support groups that might be of help to you and your family.
Another way to cope with learning disabilities is by reading self-help books written by educators and mental health professionals. We are well aware of the stigma around self-help books. Perhaps you may say ‘they are not for me’, but trying to find any material that can guide you with knowledge is a powerful tool. Sometimes the reassurance and lessons we read in these books are all we are looking for.
Every child needs to grow up feeling competent and loved. When children have learning disabilities, parents may need to work harder at developing their children’s self-esteem and relationship-building skills.
Never lose hope, and everything will work out in the end.