What every parent needs to know about helping a child struggling with a learning disability
The school years are hard enough for a child, but factor in a reading disorder and things become all the more complicated. According to the Vancouver Sun, approximately one in five people struggle with reading. Problems with decoding (dyslexia and visual impairment), poor comprehension (possibly stemming from ADD or ADHD), and speed (such as slow processing) are common issues. Unfortunately, the inability to read can affect a student's capacity to learn across other subjects since cognizance is key. As a parent, it's important to keep your cool in order to be a solid support system for your child. Here are some tactics to help you do just that.
Collaborate with Educators
It's important to be on the same page with your child's educators, so make it a point to communicate any setbacks, progress, and general concerns. Ask if you can sit in on a class to see how your child reacts in a learning environment. Work together to identify your child's strengths and interests and draw from those points to improve their skills. Acknowledge emotional reactions that come with the frustration of learning and develop a strategy to help your child cope with any problems. Establish a short- and long-term plan for what can be done to help your kid both in and out of the classroom.
Create a Designated Reading Area
Encourage motivation for your child to read at home by creating a designated reading nook. Make sure the space has ample lighting, is comfortable and quiet, provides privacy, and has enough storage to stow away books and other materials. Natural light is best, but you'll still want to have a reliable fixture for when the sun sets. Make it cozier by hanging a string of LED lights. Implement a relaxing seating area, whether that means a bean bag chair and throw pillows, a recliner, cushions on the floor, or a loveseat. If you can't designate a separate room, set up some folding screens or a hanging curtain to section off an area. Along with bookshelves, store reading material in creative spaces such as a chest that doubles as a table. Ask your child for their input so they can make the area feel like their own.
Look Beyond the Book
Books aren't the only way kids can improve their reading skills. There are also several great websites that help with visualization, summarizing, tone, phonemic awareness, comprehension, and other literacy skills. Turn fun activities such as cooking, drawing, and storytelling into an educational learning experience for your child. Adding variety to your to their routine can help keep them motivated to learn.
Wonder of Learning offers developmentally delayed children an opportunity to advance through play-based tutoring and customized education. Whether a cooking, dance, or piano class, WOLO’s teachers are specially trained to tailor each child’s learning experience their needs and learning style.
Consider Assistive Technology
Assistive technology (AT) is a device, piece of equipment, or system that compensates for a specific learning disability — like audiobooks, for example. These tools can help with decoding, fluency, and comprehension. However, AT does not replace corrective instruction such as using a software to improve poor phonic skills. The goal is to increase a child's sense of independence while helping them in a school environment.
While it's fine to take advice from others, do your own research when it comes to determining which tools your child needs by staying on top of new developments, therapies, and educational techniques. Even though you may be as frustrated as your child on some days, it's important to remember that a learning disability isn't impassable. If you show signs of discouragement, your child will pick up on that, so it's crucial that you're not letting tests, homework, and school bureaucracy from giving your child the emotional and moral support he/she needs to succeed.
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Ashley Taylor | firstname.lastname@example.org | disabledparents.org