Your child is smart. And creative. They will find countless ways of avoiding the pain of dissapointing you. Procrastination, obstinance, even using cuteness and charm. Testing each methodology until they find the perfect system for getting you to give in. The perfect system to protect themselves from the pain.
People Naturally Avoid Pain
Can you blame them. Not really, everybody avoids pain.
It's easy for parents to make mistakes that make things worse. Happens all the time.
As parents it is so disheartening to find out that your child isn't performing well academically. So many thoughts can race through your mind. You wonder if you did something wrong. You might even wonder if your child is not intelligent. I'm here to tell you they are. That intelligence njust needs to be brought out in the right way.
As parents our own frustrations can cause us to push them in ways that aren't healthy for them. It's normal. We want the best for them. We love them and we care about their future. And the more we care the more likely we are to make mistakes. Mistakes that may affect them for the rest of thier lives.
It doesn't end there. Did you know that if a child struggles in school they are much more likely to suffer from other issues?
A report by mencap found that:
- 82% of children with learning disabilities are bullied
- 79% are scared to go out for fear of being bullied
- 58% had been physically hurt by bullies
Kids who struggle become targets for bullying. And these early problems can lead to greater problems down the road.
- 62% of teens with learning difficulties do not have employment one year out of high school
- 60% of teens being treated for substance abuse have learning disabilities
- 31% of teens with learning disabilities are arrested between three and five years after graduating high school
But it doesn't have to be this way. Modern science has discovered that difficulties in academics are ussually caused by very simple, correctable weaknesses in very small parts of the learning system. Taking a three pronged approach (Building confidence, building up foundations of learning, integrating the body) to help a child overcome these problems early on can change their entire future. Like Kim Scott, who found the problems here child had been struggling with actually ended up being very easy to solve.
“It was so good to finally find the core problems!”
~Kim Scott, Graham Island New Zealand
Your child is likely truly bright and intelligent. They are just struggling to learn in a traditional academic setting. Usually these kids are verbal, articulate, and astute. Because of this you think that they should be performing better in school. Sometimes an assumption may be made that they are lazy or just not trying hard enough in school. This is usually not the case. I haven't met a student yet who truly didn't want to do well in school.
Defense mechanisms can kick in and get in the way of parents and teachers seeing this. But, truly, kids want to feel the glory of a wonderful report card and bask in the sunshine of pleasing their parents.
For some kids, learning with traditional methods just doesn't work. It takes way longer for them to learn what others seem to be understanding in an instant. They try harder, work harder, and the outcome is the same. They are still behind , still struggling.
These children need a few things to succeed.
- Backing up and working on the components of learning is critical to their success.
- Building confidence is critical to their success
- Integrating their body with cross lateral motions is critical to their success
Learning should be fun. Children want to learn - they crave it actually. When a child has lost their desire for learning they have lost one of their fundamental joys. If they are in a state of "painful learning" something must be done quickly because things quickly get worse.
- Remember, homework is suppossed to be practice of something they have already learned. If they are struggling with it there is a problem.
- Don't add more academics to your child's schedule. If your child did not learn to read while sitting in school all day, then odds are that having him/her read some more at night is not going to help. The reading needs to be taught in a different manner for your child to learn to read. The same is true for all of the subjects.
- Keep from over scheduling your child. A student who learns differently is working at capacity all day. When that student gets home, he/she is fatigued. Down time is of importance. This doesn't mean constant television and video games, but it means park visits, play dates, and unstructured activities.
- Make sure the amount of time spent on homework is appropriate for age. It's a good idea to keep a log of how much time is spent. It not only gives you a clearer picture but it gives you something to bring to teachers if needed.
- Fighting over homework is a losing battle for both sides. Don't take the bait. Your child learns how to push your buttons. You get frustrated and your child will learn to hate learning. For most children, immediatly after school is not the best time for homework. Let them get in some physical activity to refresh their brains.
- Use the power of micro commitments to transition your child from play time to homework time. Start with asking for tiny things that can't be refused. Then slightly more involved things. Until finally, the biggie, homework. You'll have to be creative with this and mix things up so your child doesn't start to recognize the pattern.
- Children often do better in a common area where others are working on their "homework" also.
- Praise the effort, not the outcome. Use very specific praise. This allows your child to form their own opinion of themselves. For example you might say "I like how you have written those letters very neatly with proper spacing and following the lines". Your child will translate this in their own mind to "I am very neat". The translation in their own mind is far more powerful than you telling them that THEY are neat.
If things have already become really bad
- Don't tell the student to try harder. This just makes the student go into fight of flight mode, where learning is even more difficult.
- Consider a different school if your child's school has a rigorous curriculum. There are charter schools and private schools that can offer different curriculum. Or consider homeschool
- Understand that there is hope for the student who learns differently. The weak learning systems can be strengthened. It's done all the time with neuro-sensory educational therapy. With time and work, students can learn to function in a traditional classroom setting.
There are easy to use at home assessments you can use to get a better understanding of where your child's weaknesses are. If the problem seems to be mostly with math, start with a dyscalculia test. If it's with reading start with a dyslexia test. If it's writing start with a dysgraphia test. Or even better than testing. Just get to work on the problem. Start doing the exercises that build up the components of learning. The exercises that build up the fundamental skills of learning are actually very easy, can be game like, and are great for building up confidence through small successes.
Just as a reminder. The path to ultimate success involves:
- Building up the foundational skills of learning
- Building confidence
- Integrating the body
If you have a student who is a "painful learner" it's important to act quickly. Every day affects your child's learning potential. Each year that an academic gap takes place, the learning gap widens and it takes longer and is more difficult to close. Use the steps above as a stop gap to help but also get your child on a program that develops the fundamentals of learning, builds self confidence back up, and integrates the body to develop neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Your child's future depends on it.