Being a parent is both the best and hardest job in the world. We love our children so much that it hurts sometimes, and when we see them struggling it's only natural to want to jump in and FIX everything. Whilst this isn't always an option, we can help smooth things out and make the ride a little easier. Here are some of my top ideas on how to help navigate your child through learning challenges.
Build them up and help them to feel safe and loved at home
Dwelling on the issue or talking about it at length with them, or in front of them will most probably be upsetting to your child and can affect their motivation. Rather, reassuring your child that everyone struggles at different stages throughout their lives (even mum and dad!), and then helping them understand that they CAN enjoy the subject that they're struggling with. Try to maintain perspective, allow them to enjoy being a child without feeling like a failure.
Learning is fun!
Find ways of making the problem area part of everyday life, this will help take away the pressure and intensity of sitting down at a table and being forced to learn it NOW. When you are out and about driving you can recite skip numbers (or times tables) in the car. Or when you are out walking the dog, play a numbers game with your child - they read the numbers on the letterboxes as you both clap out the numbers. If your child struggles with reading, let them choose what books they'd like to read - even if they can’t read all the words, ask them to circle the ones they can, then give a high 5 when they finish a book. let them read out all the road signs as you're driving, or encourage them to read the food packaging while your at the supermarket. Build up their confidence and enjoyment and learning will naturally follow.
Talk to your child's teacher
Your child's teacher may have some excellent suggestions on how you can both help your child. A teacher may recommend an educational assessment where the child's strengths and weaknesses, memory, learning style, and so on are assessed and can really help figure out how you can best help your child. Tip - always go into a meeting with a list of questions and write down their answers - it's hard to remember everything that is said when you are feeling emotional.
Try not to compare your child to others
All children are different and whilst one child may excel in one subject, they may struggle in another. And if you do help out in the classroom, make sure it is not in the subject area that your child is struggling with. Find out what your child is good at and do it. How la de da the world would be if all kids were the same! Do they like to paint? Then get them to paint a picture using numerals or their sounds. Older children may benefit from a tutor. Word of mouth is usually the best way to find someone, and you can ask the school who they recommend - they will be more familiar with the schools methods. Tip - choose a tutor that has a good rapport with your child as they will be more successful. Remember, your child's struggles are not the most important thing in their life and are an opportunity to teach them how to persevere, overcome and achieve.
This article was first written for Kidspot as part of their Kelloggs feature in 2011.