What can I do at home?
Boost your child's self-esteem:
One of the biggest barriers to learning is lacking confidence and feeling that you can’t do something. That often stops children even wanting to try. Children with learning difficulties often lose confidence as they experience repeated failure and this damages their self-esteem.
Both in school and at home we need to work hard to bolster the children’s self-esteem. We can do this by emphasising the things they are good at – it may be art, sport, making things or being a good friend. We need to show them that we value these characteristics as much as reading and writing. We need to avoid criticising a child when they are unable to do something and ensure that they don’t feel it is their fault, explaining to them that we just need to find the right way to help them to learn
Most children with learning difficulties struggle with some aspect of language, so talking about things with your child is a very helpful strategy. Encourage them to talk about what they have been doing (at school or on a day out, for example), using the correct words (not ‘thingy’) and making sense. This may mean that you have to give them plenty of time to think through what they want to say and not put pressure on them to respond immediately. When they struggle, don’t correct them, but model back to them a better way to say something.
Eg. Child: “We goed to the park this afternoon.”
Adult: “Yes, we went to the park didn’t we?”
Children who are struggling to learn to read will have more motivation to overcome their difficulties if they have a love of books and stories, so reading to your child is a good strategy to encourage a love of books. When you read to them, they can relax and get a much better sense of what a book is about than when they are struggling through the words themselves. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hear your child read with their reading book, but that you should have times (bedtime is often ideal) when you just read to them and they can listen (this also helps to develop their listening skills).
Counting is at the heart of all number-based maths. It is often easy to incorporate counting into daily activities. Counting does not just mean reciting numbers though. A child has to understand that a number refers to one thing. Gabbling “one, two, three, four” etc. is not the same as counting out four sweets or four steps. So give your child plenty of opportunities to count real things.
As they get older, children with learning difficulties often have difficulty remembering number facts such as times tables or number bonds for 10. There can be fun ways (such as singing or games) that help some children to learn these facts. Talk to your child’s maths teacher about what you could do.
All children learn better if they are interested and children with learning difficulties need the motivation that comes with being interested to keep them going when learning is hard for them. By encouraging their interest in things at home, talking about things and giving them a range of experiences, they will develop a lively, interested approach to the world that will help them with their learning at school.