One of the key skill sets, which often need to be addressed in children with a learning difficulty, is that of executive functioning skills. This is the CEO of the brain and continues to develop into a person’s early twenties. Examples of executive functioning skills include planning and organising, time management, sustained attention, inhibition and working memory.
Start with executive functioning skills
“Executive functioning skills support the academic output. Once we start working on this, the children become more successful and catch up. It’s not that they can’t do it. It’s that their executive functioning skills are letting them down,” explains Jenna. “For example, if you miss the teacher’s instruction, it doesn’t mean you can’t answer the question, it means you didn’t sustain your attention long enough to catch the question, resulting in the incorrect answer.
We often teach children to self-manage so that they can be aware of times when they lose attention so that they can snap back into focus,” she says.
Address other developmental domains
Although executive functioning is usually one of the big causes of the child not keeping up in the classroom, there are in fact eight developmental domains. A child acquires hundreds of skills every year in these areas, which include language, social, adaptive, executive functioning, and motor, play, cognition and academic skills. These areas all affect each other. If the child has a language delay it could also affect academic output. For example, if the child doesn’t understand the concepts of ‘fewer’ or ‘more than’ or ‘smallest’ or ‘first’ and ‘last,’ it will affect maths output which falls under academic competency.
Encourage them to help themselves
Finding a solution to a child’s learning difficulties means empowering them to help themselves. This means developing their social, emotional and intellectual skillsets.
“Development and deficits in child development are not set in stone,” emphasis Jenna. “There are steps that can be taken to change the course your child is on. “
Guidance, support and positive reinforcement can establish a solid foundation of self-confidence. In this way, the difficulty can be used as leverage to learn how to cope and rise up to challenges, making a child with learning challenges more determined, stronger and more resilient – important skills in leading a productive life, no matter where or how you might start,” concludes the learning expert.