How to spot the signs that your child may be struggling



Thriving or surviving – how do you know if your child is progressing and reaching their potential?  There may be a time when you wonder if there is more going on than meets the eye.  Kate Hudson, Head of Learning Support at Cheam School, looks at how to spot the signs and what you can do about it.


Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) are more recognised now than ever before. There is so much on offer to support children and ensure that they reach their full potential.  However, it is hard to know whether a child has a SpLD or whether it is a delay in their development.  All children learn at differing rates and we must not try to diagnose a child who might have an SpLD too soon! Every child is unique.

Importantly, schools now recognise that every child learns in a different manner, there is no “one size fits all”. This is not a weakness and adapting ways we measure a child’s progress are improving but still lagging behind the improvements in teaching; a topic for a whole new article!

Importantly, schools now recognise that every child learns in a different manner, there is no “one size fits all”.

The British Dyslexia Association has established that 10% of the population have dyslexic traits. While many schools are now able to identify a potential dyslexic child, there are still some in education who do not empathise with a child that has an SpLD, which can have serious implications. When undiagnosed, and without the appropriate support, young people can leave school with low self-esteem and a worrying feeling of what will come next.

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, and we know that dyslexia can be associated alongside other specific learning difficulties. These are known as co-occurring difficulties; dyspraxia, developmental control disorder (DCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyscalculia, working memory, processing difficulties (visual and auditory) and speech and language difficulties.


The following signs are often associated with a SpLD. It is important to remember that children develop at different rates and do not have the same cluster of abilities or difficulties.
  • They are struggling with spelling, writing or reading and/or numeracy.
  • They are not progressing as quickly as his/her peers or not progressing at all.
  • Their speed of processing, whether spoken and/or written language, is slow.
  • They may have poor concentration and difficulty following instructions.
  • They may be forgetful with words.
  • They may have low self-esteem.
  • If your child experiences visual difficulties (print seems to blur, moves around or doubles, their eyes hurt or they suffer from headaches) when attempting to read. They could be suffering from visual tracking issues or visual stress.

It is a misconception that SpLD’s are seen as a weakness, when in fact they are found in children with significant potential.  Understanding the child and their SpLD is the key to unlocking their success.


What can you do to help your child?
  • Speak and share your concerns with your child’s school, their teachers and the Learning Support Department.
  • It is better to share your concerns earlier rather than later. It has been proven that early intervention has greater results.  Let a professional in the field guide you along the journey
  • Building confidence is key to their success.
  • Growth mindset skills – encourage them to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Teach your child that we are all different and have hidden talents.
  • Take time to understand their SpLD and see it from their perspective.
  • Try differing strategies – one size does not fit all.
  • There is a wealth of support available. These websites are a great place to start: bdadyslexia.org.uk, www.patoss-dyslexia.org,
  • There are also many websites to support your children at home like – nessy.com/uk/, www.tes.com, readingeggs.co.uk

Children with SpLDs have the ability to think differently, build resilience and develop an inner strength. See it as a strength and not a weakness.  Empower, nurture and inspire.


 

 



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