Does Your Child Have the Right Tools for the Job?
Weak underlying mental tools cause smart students to struggle in school.
She said, “I feel like I’m asking him to dig a hole, but don’t know what kind of shovel to give him.”
My husband is fond of saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” But the bottom line is that even though a hammer may be an excellent tool, it isn’t the right tool to do all jobs.
There are many underlying learning skills that are needed to learn comfortably and efficiently. Struggling learners tend to have a pattern of real strengths and weaknesses in their underlying skills, causing them to have to over-rely on their strengths. For example:
- A student with weak ability to think about the sound in words (phonemic awareness) may be dependent upon his memorized vocabulary for reading. Because he can’t sound out unfamiliar words, his reading may be inaccurate or slow because he has to reread over and over in order to figure out the words.
- A student with good verbal skills but weak ability to get information from head to paper, may chat with neighbors instead of doing his work, or put excessive energy into talking his way out of things.
- A student with weak comprehension skills may rely on rote memory to write down everything the teacher says, or memorize her study guide exactly, resulting in very dense and unhelpful notes and poor test scores. Questions phrased differently than the study guide will seem like completely different information.
Having the right tools always makes the job easier. In the case of students, these are “mental tools” such as memory, attention, sensory motor integration, processing speed, auditory and visual processing, language processing, and executive function.
Weaknesses in any of these underlying skills can cause smart students of any age to struggle. Thankfully, brain research in neuroplasticity and over 50 years of clinical and scientific research proves that these underlying skills can be developed, making dramatic improvements or completely correcting learning and attention challenges.
Having the right tools to do the job, allows students to become the comfortable and independent learners they have the potential to be.
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