The key to making sure that a child with learning disabilities can build a strong sense of worth, confidence and determination are through love, encouragement, and support. Making sure your child gets the required treatment at school or through therapy is obviously essential, but you also have a job as a parent to give your child the social and emotional tools they will need to work through their challenges. You are your child’s first role model; therefore, your attitude towards their disability will have a great impact on them. Children will usually try to follow their parent’s example, and so the way you behave and respond to your own challenges and your positive or negative attitude will be what they will learn about their own condition.
So, the first tips for you are on how to cope with your children’s learning disability:
- Keep things in perspective; having a learning disability is not a hopeless case. Keep in mind that no one is obstacle free. It is how you deal with those obstacles that separate achievers to others. Teach your child what it’s like to overcome challenges and not let them discourage or overwhelm you. Does not allow standardized tests, school bureaucracy and stocks of paperwork distract you from giving your child emotional and moral support.
- Become an expert on your child’s learning disability. Do research and keep up to date on new developments in learning disability programs, therapies and educational techniques. You know your child better than any teacher or doctor, so you are the primary expert when it comes to looking for the best tools to help them learn.
- Be your child’s voice and advocate. You will probably need to voice your concerns regarding the special help your child may need more than once. Work on your communication skills and become a proactive parent. It’s imperative to try to remain calm and reasonable to make sure your message is heard and your child’s needs are met.
- Focus on your child’s strengths rather than just his weaknesses. A learning disability does not define anyone. It is only a weakness among many other strengths. Focus on your child’s talents and gifts and nurture activities in which they excel. Your child’s life and schedule should not revolve entirely on his or her disability.
Once you have mastered a positive attitude towards your child’s learning disability, you and your child are ready to move on to the next step which is how to work at home on that difficult task of completing homework:
- The place to do homework at home is essential to help concentration. Your child should do homework at the same place every day. You can have your child help you find the location, making sure the place is comfortable, well-lit and that the desk or table has the appropriate size.
- Set a routine. Homework should be done at the same time every day. And establish rules to reduce any possible distractions during that time such as no friends over, no phone calls, no TV or Music, etc.
- Use a large calendar with lots of free space to write down assignment due dates and teach your child to use this calendar early on to help them get through their entire school career.
- Teach your child to pack their own book bag every night. Organization is important for children with LDs. You can write a simple check list of books, notebooks and supplies needed each day and use different colored folders and notebooks for each subject.
- It’s a proven fact that students learn easier and better if they are able to associate abstract concepts to mnemonic phrases. So try to make up plenty of these to help your child learn difficult things to memorize.
- During homework time, provide frequent mini breaks to avoid exhaustion. You can also teach your child to break longer assignments into shorter tasks that can be done over a longer period of time. For example, instead of studying 3 hours straight for a test on the next day, they can study 20 minutes a day starting a week before.
- Provide tons and tons of praising both verbal and nonverbal.
- To motivate completion of homework you can make “homework contracts” that your child can help write. This will help your child concentrate on one goal at a time. A contract could be for example: I, Brian, will complete all of my homework each night for a whole week. Once I am done, my parents will take me out for ice cream.
- Use a timer to set the time allotted to homework to allow your child to see the passage of time more concrete and see how much time he or she has left to work.
- Figure out how your child learns best. What kind of learner is he or she? Visual, auditory or kinesthetic? Once you know this, you can design strategies to help your child reinforce his learning process at home.