Four Roadblocks to Learning

Is your child struggling with school? Does he or she seem to be drowning in work without making much progress? Sometimes the real cause of a child’s failure to thrive academically is simply the teaching methods employed at school. Here are four “roadblocks” which can interfere with a child’s ability to learn effectively. As you analyze your child’s progress, watch for these barriers:

1. World of Worksheets. Chances are, if you examine an average classroom at a random time of the day, you’ll see children sitting at desks completing worksheets. Worksheets seem to come tumbling down from the ceiling, filling backpacks and loading desks. The problem with worksheets is that they do not allow for creative expression and they don’t address the needs of those who learn differently. Children who are kinesthetic learners, for example, are going to have tremendous boredom and frustration with mountains of worksheets. These children are going to become restless and are likely to misbehave, causing even more difficulties with learning.

2.Teacher Talk. Does your child’s teacher stand at the front of the classroom, lecturing and writing on the chalkboard? Although this may be necessary at times, if the teacher is primarily stuck in this style of teaching, your child may not be able to learn as effectively. Children with ADHD and learning disabilities often become lost when a teacher lectures to the group. They aren’t able to sustain their focus and their thoughts drift. Later, when your son or daughter is quizzed, he has little idea what was supposedly taught. Studies have shown that teachers only address about a third of the classroom, anyway. And this lecturing style does not allow for much conversation, quick responses, brainstorming, and negotiating.

3. Scattering Skills. It’s not always true that reading skills need to be broken down into tiny parts and that a child must master little mechanical aspects of language in order to be literate. Sometimes it’s better to take the “mechanics” out of reading and to simply surround a child with fascinating, lively books. He should be exposed to “story time” on a blanket with an animated storyteller. Or books could be acted out like a play, where children can take parts. The more genuine interest a child has in reading, the more likely it is that she’ll read.

4.Group Gripes. Often in the public school system we group children based on their academic abilities or disabilities. “Jenny, you’re in star group A,” or “Ben, you’re in the turtle math group.” Sometimes this can be problematic because children quickly realize they are one of the “smarter” or “slower” students, and perform accordingly. Yet we have seen that kids who are mainstreamed with children who have stronger abilities often try harder to rise to their peers. They benefit from the modeling of their higher-achieving classmates. And kids who are academically gifted can actually profit from helping and tutoring those who are struggling. When learning disabled students are removed from the class and put in a remedial grouping, this can also cause problems. In this setting, misbehavior is more likely to occur as children pass their tendencies for instability back and forth.

The Road Ahead

The main question to ask yourself is… Does my child’s current schooling work for him or her? Is he happy? Does she look forward to attending school? Is he making good progress? Is she reaching her academic goals? If so, don’t mess with what’s working. But if you notice roadblocks, bring them up kindly with your child’s teacher. Make upbeat, positive suggestions. If you feel you’re not being heard, schedule an IEP review. If your child is still failing in his current setting, you may want to consider other options for your child’s education, where the teaching style is less restrictive and more able to meet your child’s needs.

Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.

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