“After many preparations, we are ready for the marriage of Q and U!”
When I read this post by a friend who is a kindergarten teacher, I thought, “What a clever way to teach the concept that q is always followed by u. Kids will remember that!”
But some kids won’t.
Why is it that in spite of good intelligence, supportive parents, good teachers, and creative teaching techniques, some kids struggle to learn and others don’t?
The answer is, they bring a different set of mental tools to the task. The school skills we all think of – learning to read, write, spell, and do math – rely on a foundation of learning skills, or what you might think of as mental tools.
If any of the underlying learning skills are weak or not fully developed, it can cause learning to be harder than it should be.
These are skills such as:
- Developmental motor skills that allow students to sit still, coordinate their movements, and use their eyes and hands together
- Auditory and visual processing that allow students to accurately perceive information that they hear and see
- Memory, attention, and processing speed that allow them to get, hold onto, think about, and respond to information quickly
- Spatial orientation and organization that allow students to discriminate between letters and words that look similar, understand how math is laid out on the page, and see the organization in textbooks and planners
- Language processing and comprehension that allow them to understand what they read and hear and express their ideas clearly
- Reasoning, problem-solving, and higher level organization that allow students to manage their own attention and behavior
Students who have weaknesses in one or more of these areas often have to work harder and longer than their peers in school. If there are several areas of weakness or one or two areas that are very weak, the student may end up with real challenges with reading, spelling, writing, and/or math.
This doesn’t mean they’re not smart, lazy, or unmotivated.
It means that key underlying learning skills are not supporting them well enough.
Important research starting as far back as the 1950s and 1970s showed us that underlying learning skills can be developed so that smart but struggling students can stop struggling. Brain plasticity research in the last 30 years has begun to reveal the amazing capacity of the brain to rewire itself for more efficient learning through specific and targeted training.
If you have a smart but struggling learner in your family (child or adult), chances are that the challenges can be dramatically improved or completely and permanently corrected.
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