My mom and I have season tickets to the Rubicon, a wonderful little professional theater in Ventura, CA. Yesterday we saw a play that takes place towards the end of WWII. The main character is a young man, Raleigh, who had enlisted in the army but was discharged before he could serve because he has epilepsy.
Raleigh’s mother, a crotchety older woman, is embarrassed that her grown son is not serving in the war, saying that he has always been lazy – that whenever he doesn’t want to do something, he has these “fits” to get out of it. Of course, she is completely wrong.
Raleigh holds his head up and acts like he doesn’t care, but the truth is that he desperately wants to serve and hates that he can’t drive, be a soldier, or get a job because of his condition. He can’t even go to college, because all openings are reserved for those returning from the war.
This made me think about our students. No matter what it looks like on the outside, they want to succeed. They want their efforts to be reflected in their grades.
Smart kids who struggle with learning or attention know that they are struggling – even at a young age. They can look around the classroom and see that everyone else is finished before they are; that their grades are not as good; that while others get to go out to recess, they have to stay in to finish their work, or have to spend their lunchtime getting help from the teacher.
People are survivors and our kids are smart and creative, so they find ways to cope and cover their challenges. One may be the class clown because, “If I’m funny, maybe no one will notice that I really can’t do this.” Others may take the role of perfect little helper or be so quiet that they fly under the radar. Maybe they become the “bad kid” and just refuse to do things or lose their homework on purpose. However they mange to cover it, learning and attention problems eventually chip away at their self-esteem.
Repeatedly, I hear from parents, I just want my happy child back! I want him to feel confident. I want her to love learning and feel like she can do anything.
Increase in confidence is one of the first changes that we see with students as we begin to develop the weak underlying skills that have caused their learning challenges!
Success in reading, writing, spelling, math and all those academic subjects taught in school, rests in large part on many different underlying learning/processing skills that allow the brain to get and organize the information needed for learning. It has been traditionally believed that if you have dyslexia, learning challenges, or attention problems, you just have to learn to live with it – to compensate or get around it. Hence the creative coping strategies!
The truth is that most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected by first identifying and developing the underlying skills that are not supporting the learner well enough, and then remediating the affected basic academic skills. We have see this thousands of times over the last 30 years and the brain research in the last 25 years has proven that the brain can be retrained. Our bright but struggling students do not have to resort to coping strategies to survive school.
They are not lazy.
They are not unmotivated.
They do try hard enough.
They do care.
And with the right kind of help, they can let go of their coping strategies and become the confident, independent learners they have the potential to be!
Do you or your child struggle with speaking, reading, 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 developing the weak underlying skills and remediating the affected academic areas. Need to know more??
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“Helping smart but struggling students dramatically improve or completely correct their learning and attention challenges by developing the underlying learning skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.”
We serve children and adults with diagnosed or undiagnosed learning and attention challenges including learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.
Jill Stowell, M.S.
Author: At Wit’s End A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle Tears, and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities
Founder and Executive Director – Stowell Learning Centers
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