Learning is a crucial part of growing up – particularly for a child or teenager at school. Experiencing difficulties with learning during this period can make the school environment a lot more challenging, and can take a toll on a person’s emotions, motivation and self-esteem. This is something that all children go through at some point. However, if your child appears to be struggling to cope with school more than would be expected then they could have a learning difficulty.
So how do you know whether your child is experiencing the ‘expected’ difficulties that most children go through while at school, or whether they have a learning difficulty?
Learning difficulties are often specific to one area of learning, such as reading, writing or maths, but your child may also be struggling with school work more generally. In either case, the normal teaching methods used in the classroom will often not help them to improve. They instead required more specialised assistance in order to be able to reach their full potential.
Some of the indicators which could suggest that your child has a difficulty with learning include:
If your child is showing any of these behaviours, it could indicate a learning difficulty and therefore it should not be ignored. However, there are a number of other factors which can cause the same problems. Your child may be experiencing challenges with their mood, stress levels or motivation at school. They may find it difficult to remain focused and free from distractions, or they could also be experiencing problems within their relationships with family or with friends.
If you are unsure of the cause of your child’s difficulties, a formal assessment can determine whether the problem lies in their ability to learn or in something else which is acting as a distraction. Learning assessments will also indicate which areas of learning are affected, to allow targeted and evidence-based strategies to be put into action.
There are practitioners at VCPS which have specialised training in children’s learning difficulties and other related concerns. Some ways that they can help you and your child include:
If you believe your child may have learning difficulties, a cognitive assessment by a qualified VCPS practitioner is recommended. A comprehensive picture of your child’s abilities is provided through structured testing, a semi-structured interview with the child’s parents and information gained from their educational setting. A cognitive profile is greatly beneficial in not only guiding treatment, but more importantly can lend vital information required to assist in educational planning in terms of a child’s learning styles, strengths and utilising these strengths to improve cognitive weaknesses.