There are over 193,000 school-aged children in the UK with a recognised learning difficulty, with around 8% of those with learning difficulties in London. The term, ‘learning difficulty’, covers a range of diagnoses, dyslexia for example, and schools generally say a child has special educational needs to indicate they need extra support. If your child is diagnosed with a learning difficulty, it can be a confusing time and a scary one. However, there are plenty of things you can do to help your child thrive and succeed.
Look beyond the difficulty
Receiving a diagnosis can be a huge relief for parents who have known their child wasn’t at the level they should be, but not why. Once you’ve received the diagnosis, your instinct will probably be to look for a solution, and rightly so, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of everything else. Remember, your child will have also just received the news of their diagnosis and may be feeling anxious about what this means. If you look beyond the difficulty to what else they can achieve, you’ll help them feel better about themselves and give them the self-confidence to overcome barriers and succeed despite their learning difficulty.
Take control of their education
Teachers have a huge amount of knowledge when it comes to learning difficulties, especially special educational needs teachers, and will be able to give you advice when it comes to what your child needs in school. This doesn’t mean that they should make all the decisions though. You should be actively involved with the school and take control of your child’s education, insisting where you need to that they receive additional support and are accommodated in line with their needs.
Sometimes a school might not be able to meet your child’s needs because they don’t have the resources, something that’s – unfortunately – quite common nowadays, and you might need to look for alternatives. This is easier in some areas than others, with bigger cities having more options available than smaller towns; there are plenty of schools able to support people with learning difficulties in London, for example.
Everyone, regardless of whether they have a learning difficulty, has a learning style, a way they learn best. For children with learning difficulties, understanding their style is especially important as it could make a huge difference in how and how much they learn. There are three types of learning styles – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic – which means your child might learn better by watching someone do something, listening to a set of instructions or carrying out a task themselves and learning by their mistakes.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle
A child that’s well-rested, eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly is more likely to be able to focus at school and retain information. Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep followed by a healthy breakfast to help them start the day right and get the most out of their school day.