How Families Can Support Students With Learning Disabilities
Having a student with a learning disability raises significant challenges for families to navigate.
Families can be a major source of support for students with learning disabilities, but many parents are unsure of what they can do for their children.
Here are some specific actions you can take to support your child at home.
Focus on Your Child’s Strengths
Being diagnosed with a learning disability can seriously affect a child’s self-esteem. Prior to a diagnosis, students have often been labelled as disruptive or lazy, and their negative self-perception has become deeply ingrained.
While it’s vital to address learning difficulties, don’t lose sight of the things your student is good at. Kids need to know their learning disability doesn’t define them, and that they excel in other areas.
Offer Praise for Effort Not Outcome
You want your child to become resilient and one of the best ways to do this is by praising effort, regardless of the result. When your child is clearly trying hard it’s vital to acknowledge this through praise and positive feedback.
By recognising the outcome rather than the result, you’re teaching your child that it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes. The most important thing is that they keep trying and putting in their best effort.
Allow For Frequent Short Breaks
Kids with learning disabilities can struggle to concentrate for long periods. When your child is doing homework, allow them frequent breaks to clear their head.
Breaks help relieve stress because kids know that they won’t be required to concentrate for extended periods. A quick break gives students a chance to decompress, and they will come back feeling refreshed and ready to focus.
Use the Sandwich Method
This method involves ‘sandwiching’ a more difficult task between two easier ones. When helping your child with homework, choose tasks you know they enjoy and are good at to start and finish each homework session.
This might be a simple maths problem or a fun word puzzle. The sandwich method is a great way to improve both concentration and boost self-esteem.
Talk About Managing Frustration
Having a learning disability can be very frustrating for kids. They may get angry or depressed that they have to try harder than their peers.
Kids need to know that it’s normal to have these emotions. Together talk about how they can manage them in a healthy way by taking time out and using relaxation techniques. Sports and art can provide a wonderful outlet for many kids to release their emotions.
Engage with Teachers Regularly
It’s essential to maintain regular contact with the school. Take the time to get to know the teachers and build positive relationships with the key people in your child’s school life.
Contact with the school can be through formal meetings with teachers where you discuss your student’s individualised progress. You may also want to have more informal catch-ups or use a ‘communication’ book that your student brings home each day.
Make the Most of Resources
As your child’s advocate, it’s important to educate yourself about the funding and resources available for students with learning disabilities in your state. Schools do their best to make the most of these programs, but there may be some they’re not aware of or haven’t applied for.
Another important resource to consider is one-to-one tutoring. A tutor can work with your child to address learning needs and meet their individual learning goals. Research has found that tutoring can have a profound impact for students with special needs.
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