If you suspect your child has a learning difficulty, there are several things you can do to support him or her. However, there are also several things you may want to avoid doing. Consider not doing the following things – ultimately, avoiding these things may help your child to grow and prosper:
1. Don't call it learning disorder
In most cases, if your child is having trouble learning, he or she is actually just have trouble learning in the way that information is presented in most schools. Instead of focusing on the difficulties your child has learning in that environment, look at the ways your child does learn.
Does he or she have an incredible sense of direction and an easy time learning where things are in relation to each other? Does he or she have an ability to watch the first five minutes of a film and predict the ending? Does he or she tend to observe how machines work and intuitively understand them?
These are all examples of learning and proof that your child can learn – the info just needs to be presented in the right way. Additionally, all of these learning strengths are common in children who have difficulty with reading and language.
2. Don't exclusively focus on what challenges your child.
Once you notice the ways that your child is learning, encourage him or her to embrace those avenues of learning. When your child is able to flourish through learning in ways that feel natural to him or her, it can boost his or her confidence and show him or her that he or she is intelligent and able to learn (even if the process is a bit different than it is for others).
Yes, you need to focus on the areas where your child struggles, but don't let that take up all of your time.
3. Don't tell your child he or she isn't trying hard enough
If your child has a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, he or he will find reading (as well as maths and rote memorisation) extremely hard, but that certainly doesn't mean he or she isn't trying.
To give you some perspective on how difficult reading and spelling can be for some people, consider the case of Anne Rice.
Famous worldwide for her prolific work as a novelist, Rice was not able to read fluently well into her teen years and still claims to misspell almost every word in her manuscripts. Her struggles were not for lack of trying, but rather a cognitive set-up that just simply wasn't designed to decode words easily.
4. Don't hide the problem
If you suspect your child has a learning difficulty, do not hide the problem. Instead, get your child help, either through his or her school or a tutoring center.
5. Don't hide your experiences
Many learning difficulties – especially dyslexia – are genetic. If you also struggled as a child or even if you still struggle today, do not hide that fact from your child. Your child is likely to feel supported and encouraged if you share your experiences with him or her.
Although revisiting your own experiences may be hard, you and your child may gain something valuable from your willingness to share.
For more information and tips, contact a local learning center or school where you can learn about programs that may help your child, like the Australian Tomatis Method.