Because many kids experience learning difficulties, it can be hard for parents and teachers to determine when a child is really struggling to keep up. Problems that most children experience across the board – including difficulty concentrating and remembering complex information – can go unnoticed in a classroom or a busy home environment. But taking time to assess your child’s development gives you the opportunity to know and act if they are in need of a little extra help.
Knowing whether your child is facing difficulties learning – due to dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, or a number of other learning disorders – often comes to parents early, but if you’re not quite sure if your child is starting to struggle, there are some signs and indicators you can look out for.
Identifying Learning Difficulties at School
Speak with your child’s teacher to find out if they’ve noticed any learning difficulties. Ask them about your son or daughter’s involvement in different subjects and how they engage and apply themselves at school. Some things you can discuss with the teacher include:
- Whether they have difficulty spelling, identifying syllables and sounding words out
- Do they have difficulty reading and writing
- If they find it unusually hard to retain information
- Having trouble concentrating
- How well your son or daughter is able to translate their ideas into their schoolwork
- How confident they are to speak and interact in class
- How well they engage with their classmates
- How they respond to instructions
Identifying Learning Difficulties at Home
- They have trouble following instructions
- They don’t sleep well
- They seem to never be listening
- They overreact when it’s time to stop/start an activity, or if asked to leave abruptly
Identifying Learning Difficulties in Social Situations
- They react in ways that seem inappropriate
- They have trouble initiating conversations
- They don’t like to play or speak with other children
What You Can Do
Asking a child psychologist for an assessment is the best way to pinpoint their learning difficulties and learn how to manage them. Child psychologists are trained to assess the child’s overall psychological health and identify disorders like dyslexia, ADHD, ASD and a number of other disorders. The tips on this list apply to most children, but shouldn’t replace professional advice.
- Deliver clear, brief instructions
- Give warning before it’s time to stop or start an activity
- Provide structure and routine – including set bed times, wake times, meal times, etc.
- Make sure your child has a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to aid concentration
- Talk to your child about difficulties they’re experiencing and help them come up with practical coping strategies (e.g. with memory tricks, colour coding their timetable, etc.)
- Divide tasks into smaller tasks
- Discuss appropriate responses to situations as they occur (e.g. when to apologise and why)
- Praise good behaviour
- Limit screen time, especially before bed