Learning Difficulties in Children: Causes and Solutions
Learning difficulties in children encompass a variety of neurobiological disorders that directly affect the way the brain receives, processes, stores, responds to and produces information.
Children who have learning difficulties may have difficulty writing, thinking, listening, speaking, reading, spelling, and carrying out mathematical calculations.
Learning difficulties in children can also create attention deficit, which can occur alongside problems with memory, coordination, social skills and also a lack of emotional maturity.
Despite their condition, children with learning difficulties are usually very intelligent. What happens is that their brains process information in a different way. This creates a discrepancy between their intelligence and their performance in school.
Causes of learning difficulties in children
Several studies have found that genetic factors often cause learning difficulties in children. One example is the recessive chromosomes that create specific reading problems. The inability to learn correctly is also often caused by neurological dysfunctions.
According to other research, there are also prenatal, perinatal and postnatal factors, as well as complications during pregnancy. Others state that older mothers and fathers are more likely to have a dyslexic child. However, even though children may have these problems, there are therapies that can improve their learning.
“Statistics have shown that 10 or 15% of children have learning difficulties”
Characteristics of children with learning difficulties
Learning difficulties can be of the compulsive type, in which children tend to pay more attention to one specific thing for a long time and disregard other stimuli that are also important for their development.
On the other hand, there are those who have impulsive distractibility, or short attention span. Children with this problem tend to focus their attention on something for a short time and then quickly move on to something else.
These are some of the characteristics of a child with learning difficulties:
- Difficulty understanding and following instructions.
- Difficulty remembering what people say.
- Hasn’t mastered the basic skills of reading, spelling, writing and math.
- Difficulty distinguishing between left and right.
- Can confuse the order of numbers.
- A lack of coordination when walking, doing sports or simple activities such as tying his shoelaces.
- Easily loses his school things.
- Confusion in relation to time. For example, he can’t differentiate between “yesterday” and “today.”
- Confusion regarding certain words.
Solutions to learning difficulties
An expert should evaluate a child’s ability to use or express knowledge. He will determine whether or not it is a learning difficulty. A children’s psychiatrist can also help coordinate this and liaise with school professionals in carrying out school tests.
Here are some solutions that can be very useful when trying to deal with a learning difficulty:
- Children need to feel loved, understood and respected in order to make the learning process easier.
- They need affection and physical closeness. This helps them to have confidence and dispel doubts about their abilities.
- It is important that they learn through play and practical activities.
- They should be encouraged to play with others and establish friendships.
- They should be free to make mistakes, and ask any questions they need to, just to make sure that they’re clear about what they need to do.
- Parents should treat them fairly and considerately.
- They should set limits and rules, but when they do something wrong they should be treated with love.
- It is important that they learn to face their emotions, frustrations and fears.
- It is essential to expose them to difficult situations so that they can overcome their fears.
- Parents should allow them to cry and express their emotions.
- They should always feel trust in the bond with their parents.
- When they do something well, it is very important to praise them, congratulate them and encourage them to keep going.
- When they get something wrong, parents should teach them that failures are part of life and that they should persevere.
It is vital to strengthen the child’s self-esteem, so that he or she can develop in a healthy way. This will also help parents and other family members understand the problem better, and to cope with the realities of living with a child with learning difficulties.