What Do I Say to My Child About His Learning Differences?

Pinterest has the cutest ideas for Valentine’s Day cards!

When I was in elementary school, my mom always made sure that I took a Valentine’s card (you know, the silly little cards you buy in a box) for every child in the class.  I think that’s the rule now in most classrooms, but back then, there were always some kids who got tons of Valentines and others who got only one or two.

Of course, the kids with overflowing Valentine’s pouches hanging on their desks felt very special (and a little smug??), but those who had only a few felt “different.”

Most people don’t really want to stand out in a crowd.  They don’t want to be “different.”  This is a big concern for parents whose children struggle in school, and particularly when they are being pulled out of class to get extra help.

Understandably parents wonder how it will affect their child’s self-esteem if they have to attend tutoring or a specialized cognitive training program like ours.

Here are some thoughts about that:

First, students spend years and years in school.  They don’t have a choice.  Most students who have difficulty in school know they are struggling.  They can quickly see that they are the last to finish, or the one who has to stay in at recess, or that their grade was lower than their peers’ even though they studied hard.

Give Them Language

Here’s the bottom line about learning disabilities and dyslexia:  By definition, the person is smart – at least average intelligence but often much higher – in spite of the fact that some aspects of learning are difficult.

Help students to understand that and give them language so they know what to say to their friends when they have to leave the class to go the Education Specialist’s room or can’t play after school because they have tutoring.  Keep it simple and direct.  A little bit of explanation will cause most classmates to move on and forget about it.


“I get distracted easily so I take my tests in a quieter room.”

“I’m getting help to make math easier.”

“ My mom says I’m smart, but I have dyslexia so that makes reading hard.  The learning center is helping make reading easier.”

Notice the word “easier.”  Nobody wants to be told they need to be “better,” but most people would love for things to be easier.

Get Help That Will Address the Real Issues And Permanently Change the Problem

Learning challenges will make a child feel different.  They often make really bright children and adults feel dumb.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Most learning and attention challenges are the result of weak underlying learning/processing skills that are not supporting the learner well enough.  These are skills like memory, focus, auditory or visual processing, processing speed, comprehension, and visual-motor integration and organization.

The great news is that these underlying skills can be developed.  The brain can be retrained to process information more effectively.  Reading, math, spelling, writing, and organization skills can be remediated and will stick, once the brain is getting complete and accurate information to think with.

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.

To learn more:

JOIN US for a FREE Parent Information Night

Click here for details and RSVP: http://learningdisability.com/parent-info-night/.


“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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