If your child seems to be having difficulty in school or with retaining new abilities, issues with learning could be the problem. During early childhood, some kids progress more slowly than others. Though this does not always indicate an actual learning disability, it is important to rule out the possibility. If they are not noticed and accounted for, learning challenges can affect educational achievement, self-esteem, and behavior in later childhood and beyond. Understanding the elements of problems with learning can help prepare you to deal with them.
What Are the Types?
Some problems can directly affect the ability to learn. Dyslexia, for example, can make it difficult for your child to read, while dyscalculia affects mathematical ability. Developmental delays in the areas of language, mobility and vision can also contribute to learning, reports Scholastic. If you suspect that your child is suffering from these or other issues that affect learning, you should seek the advice of a specialist to help you and your child cope with the problem.
What Are the Causes?
Early childhood is an important period for the development of skills and abilities. There are many different factors that can contribute to learning challenges. Diagnosable problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, can affect learning by causing a child to not be able to sit still, to be easily distracted or to have a short attention span. Genetics are also thought to be a causal factor in learning disabilities, according to KidsHealth. Other contributing factors include problems during pregnancy, early experiences, lack of nurturing from parents and inadequate child care.
What to Watch For
The first step in tackling a learning challenge is to acknowledge its existence. Issues with reading, for example, might be indicated by the inability to memorize letters or numbers or to repeat words with more than one syllable, reports the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities. Earlier signs that your child is having difficulty include limited speech, lack of full sentences when speaking and issues with sensory processing, such as sensitivity to noise and touch. It is also important to remember that each child develops at a different rate. Being slow to learn does not always indicate a learning disability.
What to Do
Early detection is important because, with the proper tools and instruction, children can adapt and learn despite the presence of learning challenges. Though this may require the expertise of a therapist, you can facilitate learning at home in several ways. Once you determine the area in which your child is struggling, it is important to provide extra practice in that area, reports Scholastic. For example, if remembering sequences of letters or numbers is difficult for your child, you should increase the focus on working with these specific skills.
- KidsHealth: Learning Problems
- Scholastic: Meeting Learning Challenges: Working with Children Who Have Developmental Delays
- Annual Review of Psychology: Autism in Infancy and Early Childhood
- United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta: Early Education Commission
- National Research Center on Learning Disabilities: Early Identification and Intervention for Young Children with Reading/Learning Disabilities
- Psychology Today: Learning Disibility