Does your child
🗸 Struggles to finish his homework
🗸 Forgets teacher’s instruction frequently
🗸 Takes longer to complete his school work
🗸 Is frustrated with school
🗸 Works harder than he should to complete school work
Learning challenges differs from learning disabilities in terms of severability of the condition. These students face challenges in learning. Furthermore, no amount of reward or incentive offered by parents or teachers seemed to come to fruition.
The Pyramid of Learning
In our Play Your Way Through the Pyramid of Learning article, we introduced The Pyramid of Learning that encompasses the sensory integration components that are critical for any person to perform in cognitive intellect capstone. The complex system within our sensory profiling affects the way we perform our daily activities, behavior and academic learning.
Common Learning Challenges
Let’s look at some of the common learning challenges for our children. Once we identify the learning challenges, we can support our children with relevant activities (for minor challenges) or therapies (for mid to severe challenges).
Some of the common challenges in writing includes difficulty in forming letters, placing of letters on page, sizing of the letters, holding and controlling pencil or even writing in a straight line. There could possibly be some difficulty in your child’s visual, tactile, vestibular, ocular or motor planning. Furthermore, it is to keep in mind that young children may not have developed appropriate finger / hand strength to write. Children age 3-4 years old may start making attempts to read and write while at 5, most children would begin to write letters or alphabets that they use often.
Therefore, for children at 3-4 years old, it will be great to introduce some pre-writing skill activities (great for 5 years old too!). Lacing, transferring poms-poms with clothes peg, finger tracing, cutting are some activities that parents can do with young children. Parents can have lots of fun with their children with simple, inexpensive materials such as play dough, slime, cotton swabs, beads and sand tray. Check out compilation of fun pre-writing skill activities from We are Teachers.
Another common feedback from parents is their child has short attention span. It is important to know that children have shorter attention span than adults. A child’s maximum attention span is about 2-3x their age. Hence, a 3-year-old may sustain their attention for a maximum of 9 minutes. Moreover, this is highly dependent on the environment they are in. Television in the background, a working vacuum cleaner or a simple bark from a neighbourhood dog may create distraction for your child.
Some possible sensory challenges for children on sustaining their attention includes tactile, visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), ability to screen input as well as motor planning. It is also good to know the preferred learning style of the child. The primary learning inputs are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. A visual learner may get bored hearing a teacher who teaches by giving verbal instructions only. A kinaesthetic learner would be distracted easily if they are left sitting in their seat without using their body (hand / movement) in a classroom environment.
For younger children, it is important to provide learning instructions in a varied mode which includes visual (pictures / image), auditory (simple verbal instructions) and kinaesthetic (movement or table task). For children who struggles on ability to screen input, it will be useful to simplify instructions by giving step by step guide and remove unnecessary items from desk and room.
For children who are having minor challenges in learning environment, parents can support their children by providing activities that supports their sensory development. For mid- to severe conditions, it would be essential for parents to seek help from occupational therapist to assess their child’s sensory profile and identify possible area where their children need support.