One of my favorite childhood books was The Little Engine That Could. I loved that little blue engine! He never ever gave up. No matter how steep the hill was, he always went after it – he always believed he could do it.
“I think I can! I think I can!
I think I can!” he’d puff.
My husband says that I just never consider the possibility of failure. I just keep pushing ahead with that “I think I can” attitude.
I look at some of our students and parents with awe. No matter what, they just keep pushing ahead. If it takes hours and hours and hours to get through homework, they put in those hours.
When any aspect of learning is a struggle, it’s going to take more time, effort, energy, and attention in order to perform. Some students will just keep putting out this excessive effort and energy day after day. But it takes a toll.
We’ve had honor roll students who gut it out and manage to maintain high grades, but they’re sweating blood to do it. They become anxious or discouraged but they push forward anyway. I applaud their perseverance. But what if they could get good grades without the constant over-the-top effort?
Other students, pushing equally as hard, may not be able to get the grades, so it looks like they’re not motivated enough, like they need to try harder. But trying harder is not the answer. Not if you don’t really have the tools to do the job.
If I need to hammer a nail and all I have is a screwdriver, trying harder with the screwdriver is not going to give me a better result.
Academic and social success depends upon a solid foundation of cognitive learning skills. If you think about these skills like a ladder or a continuum, academics and school subjects are at the very top. Many other skills must be in place in order to learn easily at the top of the ladder. When the underlying learning skills, or skills lower on the continuum are weak, they may keep children and adults from learning and functioning as well and as independently as they should. Compensating for weak underlying skills will divert attention and energy from the learning task.
I want our students to have an “I think I can” attitude, but even more importantly, I want them to have a solid foundation of underlying skills that will allow them to love learning and reach their potential without having to push themselves to the breaking point day after day.
The great news is, the underlying skills that support efficient, comfortable academic learning can be developed. The brain can develop new, more effective neuropathways, or connections, so that learning can be easier and academic remediation can stick! That’s what we get to do everyday! What a joy!
Does your child struggle with learning or attention? These challenges can be changed. While there are no simple, overnight solutions, most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected through targeted physical and cognitive training. For more information:
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