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When Learning Becomes a Struggle

As a parent, you hurt for your child when learning becomes difficult. Perhaps word recognition skills have not developed, or reading comprehension seems to be very limited. Maybe those math facts just cannot be memorized, or the ability to write a readable sen­tence does not exist. You want your child to do well and wonder what you can do to make learning easier. If your child does experience learning difficulties, consider the following ideas:

Begin your search for answers with prayer, asking for God’s guidance and wisdom. Then talk to your child’s teacher. Find out what difficulties the teacher sees. Consider the suggestions your child’s teacher has to offer.

Be certain there is no undiscovered physical prob­lem. When was your child’s last physical exam?

Could he or she be experiencing a vision problem? If it’s not a problem with visual acuity, could there be a problem with eye coordination? This is some­thing to consider if you notice that your child’s reading is choppy or if there is a tendency to skip over words or to lose one’s place while reading.

  • Could there be a hearing problem? This needs to be considered if your child has a history of ear infections. Hearing may not have gone through the normal developmental process, and as a result there may be difficulty hearing the differences in some letter sounds. If this is the case, your child will likely have difficulty learning to be a phonetic reader.
  • Could there be other developmental concerns? Were there problems during pregnancy or early development? When were the various develop­mental milestones achieved? Could your child be a slower learner? If this is the case, you will find that he or she seems to fall a little further behind every school year.
  • Could your child be experiencing a specific learn­ing disability? This is something to consider if there is advancement in some academic areas and difficulties in others.

In order to find answers to these questions, it is often necessary to have your child evaluated. This type of evaluation is available through your local public school. Even though your son or daughter may not attend the public school, you may still make use of the school’s diagnostic services. An evaluation will point out strengths and weaknesses in learning and give sug­gestions for solving problems.

Private tutoring is often one way to help your child improve in some basic skills. While the classroom teacher or school may be able to provide some tutoring, they may not be able to provide all the assistance that is necessary.

Don’t assume learning will get better with time. Find out what’s causing the struggle so that you can begin to understand how to help.


From Patient Parenting, by John Juern. © 2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Image credit: cherylt23 (used under Creative Commons CC0)