Visit any elementary school and you are certain to hear some version of, "School is harder the second time around." Parents nationwide bemoan the challenges that they face with their students; the homework and the lack of time.

When your child has a learning disability, the standard of difficulty is raised significantly. With proper help from the school and the proper environment at home; your child can succeed. The key to working with a child with a learning disability is patience - patience from your child, patience from your child's teachers, and patience from you.

1. A patient child

Your child is frustrated. He or she sees their peers grasping information and moving quickly through their lessons. Your child may "fake it" and pretend to know what is going on when, in reality, they are lost. There are many skills that they need to develop and one is patience with themselves.

There are a few simple strategies to help your child work with the frustration that they might feel during homework sessions.

  • You can break the work into small segments. Only give a small amount of work at a time.

  • Give your child a visual checklist of the tasks at hand. Allowing the child to check them off gives them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

  • Give your child extra time to complete their homework and always let them start without distractions in the background. Avoid auditory distractions like music, TV, and other background noise. And eliminate any visual distractions like lighting that is too bright or too dim, excessive clutter, and TV. Avoid anything else that makes it hard for your child to concentrate.

  • Celebrate the process of learning and point out what your child does well. If they have struggled with some sort of "block" on a particular math concept or fact and finally grasp it, celebrate.

  • Show progress. Discuss the journey rather than the destination.

  • Express your empathy for your child and their challenges.

2. Patient teachers

While teachers have been trained to work with all different types of learning abilities, having children in the classroom with learning disabilities makes teaching more challenging. It can be especially frustrating when the student is not performing up to their potential.

For teachers, there are some general guidelines to help students with learning disabilities work toward their potential.

  • Never single out a child or state their challenges in front of their peers.

  • Make an agreement at the beginning of the year. Set up guidelines with the student. "Since you have a difficult time reading the vocabulary tests, when I pass it out, please wait and I will come to you after they are all given out."

  • Be open to substitute assignments or assessments. If a child has difficulty writing, and the goal of the unit is for all students to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular topic, find a way for the student to demonstrate mastery without writing.

  • Allow for the use of manipulatives and concrete concepts.

  • If the child is over-stimulated by sensory input, try and provide a place for them to work with less distraction.

3. Patient parents

Remember that your child is a unique individual. They are not trying to be obstinate. They need structure to their day, especially in assignments, in order to be successful.

  • Keep your questions short and direct and allow your child the time to answer them. (This can be hard!)

  • Give your child every opportunity to succeed and grow. You will be able to see their progress.

  • Remember that their progress may be slower, but look for the small steps - you will find them.

Children who struggle with learning issues can achieve academic success. The key is patience.

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