How Specialist Teachers Can Help Your Child Become a Happy Learner
Takeaway: It’s hard to figure out the root cause of seemingly simple challenges. Say, your child has trouble finishing her homework. Is it just that she’s not motivated? Or is her brain having trouble processing the information? For example — seeing letters in reverse or not ‘getting’ numbers? A specialist teacher is trained to understand the underlying issues and tackle them using a systematic care plan.
All children have challenges, and some need a little extra help.
Every child is unique, but common threads link the types of struggles some children have. For example, perhaps your child isn’t adapting well to school? Perhaps she has trouble focussing in class, sticking with her homework, or waiting for her turn when playing games? Perhaps she does well with certain types of schoolwork but struggles with others? Or maybe she gets anxious often and finds it hard to leave you and go to school? To us parents, it’s hard to see the links, but a specialist teacher can spot patterns of behaviour early and come up with the targetted solutions.
Specialist teachers can engage with your child in a way other teachers aren’t equipped to.
They’re trained to understand, analyse, and help children who learn differently, have problems concentrating, get anxious often, or who are on the autism spectrum. But seemingly ordinary issues often have a hidden depth, for which you need a specialised toolset.
Say, your child has trouble finishing her homework. Is it just that she’s not motivated? Or is her brain struggling to process the information? For example, seeing letters in reverse, or not ‘getting’ numbers? If her handwriting is sloppy, is it that she’s not trying hard enough, or is her brain struggling to get her fingers to move correctly. It’s hard to figure this out unless you’ve received the right training. And specialist teachers have this sort of training.
But they also know how to connect with your child and nurture her strengths
Many children who struggle have lost faith in themselves. They believe they’re not capable of learning. A specialist teacher’s challenge is more than just making an assessment. Her challenge is to establish a bond with your child and show her that she can learn if taught the right way. For this, she has to connect with your child, find out what motivates her, and nurture her strengths. She’ll also have to coordinate with you, other support staff or health professionals, and perhaps even a speech and language therapist.
All this begins with an assessment, which is a structured, in-depth process.
The specialist teacher has to first gather data to make an informed decision. Most sessions are tailored to your child’s needs, but as a rough guide, here’s what you can expect.
- The assessment can take up to 3 hours and will be held in a private room so that there aren’t any distractions.
- The teacher will first have an informal chat with you about your child and the challenges she’s facing. The teacher might also talk to your child’s other teachers about her most common classroom troubles.
- Your child will go through a series of tests to explore her reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and fine motor skills. The teacher will also want to learn more about her learning habits and speed. This means testing her memory, how she processes the speech and words she hears, as well as how fast she processes them.
- Finally, you’ll get a report — once the teacher has time to calculate the test scores, note down her observations, and draw some conclusions.
The assessment will help the teacher come up with a care plan for your child.
Based on the results, the teacher can set specific goals for your child and map out a path to those goals. Here are some possible approaches:
- Get her to do more of what she already does. Sometimes, she’ll just need extra hours working on writing and numbers, touch typing, study skills, self-care, etc.
- Tweak what she already does. Sometimes, your child’s learning style is different from what’s being offered in class. If she’s a visual learner, for example, perhaps she’ll do better by watching videos or using illustrations? Perhaps she needs a multisensory approach, or more hands-on work (rather than dealing only with abstract ideas)?
- Change her learning environment. Is she unable to focus because the classroom setup is too distracting? Perhaps she gets anxious because she’s overloaded with stimuli? Will she do better with more structured learning? Or if she’s moved a little further away from a noisy section of the class? Or given a ‘safe space’ to calm down? Many of your child’s challenges could be solved by giving her a better learning environment.
- Start more formal therapies like speech and language therapy, if your child has related speech and language challenges that need to be dealt with separately.
- Suggest out-of-school activities to give your child a change from her regular routine and stimulate her mind.
As a parent, how can you help?
Your child is more than just a label, and you can help her realise this.
- Understand your child’s specific learning difference. Try being proactive by look up the latest insights into her difference, and educational tools and techniques she could use. It’ll help your child, and you’ll be able to focus any worry into something positive and constructive.
- Focus on her strengths, to help keep things in perspective. Her learning difference may be a challenge in some situations, but it’ll give her strengths, too. Perhaps she’s not good with numbers but loves telling stories? You could encourage this and build her confidence, to balance out the frustration from too much maths homework.
- Be a role model for her. You have obstacles to overcome too, and can model healthy ways to tackle these. Children learn more from their parents than from anyone else, so you could help her discuss little challenges and come up with actionable solutions. Show her that it’s possible to overcome these challenges by working smart, being optimistic, and having a sense of humour.
Do you think your child might benefit from specialist teaching?
The Ed Psych Practice offers consultation, advice, and problem solving for parents, nurseries, schools, and colleges.
- Phone: +44 (0) 78 3344 7356
- E-mail: Office@TheEdPsych.com
You might also be interested in some of our other posts
- 4 Remarkable Strengths of Dyslexic Children [And How to Nurture Them]
- What Are ‘Learning Styles’? And What Can They Tell Us About Children Who Struggle At School?
- Can Speech and Language Therapy Help Your Child Live a Fuller Life?
- Occupational Therapy: How to Help Your Child Be More Independent, Confident, & Adaptable
- The Simple 6-Step Time Management Guide for Middle School Children