In today’s world, it is more important than ever that children develop a love of learning. In fact, the ability to think critically, read, and solve problems is increasingly necessary for success in the job market. Unfortunately, in South Africa, most parents still encounter a one-size-fits-all approach to education, with few schools catering for students with barriers to learning to help them succeed and foster a love of learning. Understanding these concepts can help you better understand your child and what they may need at school.
What are Learning Barriers?
Learning barriers are conditions that make the process of learning more difficult for the person experiencing them. Some examples of learning barriers include ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and a processing disorder.
A processing disorder is a neurological brain condition that creates difficulty during the stages of reading, writing, and math. This can impact any age group, but is often found more in teens and adults, making this all the more important to address in Grades 6 and 7, as kids move into the teen years. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that impacts the ability to focus, regulate emotions, and follow through on tasks.
It is common in children, and can often be treated with medication and therapy. Dyslexia is a reading disorder when the brain has trouble connecting visual information to sound information. This can be treated with tutoring and modifications to teaching methods, to foster a love of reading. Dysgraphia is a writing disorder where the brain has trouble connecting the visual information to motor skills. This can be treated with assistive technology and modified assignments to foster a love of written communication.
How are learning barriers discovered?
Teachers, tutors, and parents can look for signs of a processing problem, like a child seeming to “slow down” when doing work. This can be found through assessments, testing, and observations. For reading, writing, and math, there are specific tests that can be given to evaluate proficiency levels.
Teachers are also trained in assessing learning levels and may notice that a child is falling behind in certain subjects. Teachers can also provide accommodations, like considering realistic time limits on tests or extra help with reading, to foster success. Working with qualified school psychologists can help you find the right assessment tools for your child.
Strategies for Teaching Children with Barriers to Learning
Knowing the barriers your child faces will help you tailor the learning environment to foster success. With a reading disorder, for example, try to provide an environment free of distractions. You can also look towards assistive technology to help with reading. This can include things like screen readers and text-to-speech software. Math, as a sequential skill, can be helped by breaking down steps and providing examples.
A child with a math problem might benefit from working in groups or with a tutor. You can also try to foster a love of learning with rewards, like letting your child “select” the subject he or she wants to learn next. A tutor can also provide one-on-one attention, help break down assignments into smaller, achievable goals, and provide encouragement when things get tough.
Unfortunately, private tutoring is not within the reach of many parents. In these cases, a learning environment which caters for kids with learning barriers may be the best choice – such as the environment provided at Japari.
What is a processing problem?
A processing disorder is a condition where the brain struggles to use information. If a child has a processing disorder, they may experience difficulties with reading, writing, and math, and may struggle with organizational skills. These difficulties can be treated, but the disorder can also be caused by other conditions, including dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. A child with a processing disorder may also have difficulty with social and emotional regulation, and may struggle to manage frustration. The processing disorder is different from a learning disability because it is not a result of a lack of ability: it is a result of the way the brain processes information.
An example of a processing disorder is a child whose brain is not able to translate sound into meaning. A child with this disorder would see the word “dog,” for example, but not understand what it means. This disorder can be treated with tutoring, helping the child learn in a different way, and sometimes medication.
What is a language processing problem?
A child with a language processing problem will have difficulty reading and writing. This can be caused by dyslexia, a medical condition, or a disability. It can also be caused by not having enough experience reading and writing. This can be treated with skilled remediation, medication, and making adjustments to the way assignments are given. It can also be treated by providing an introduction to reading and writing early.
If a child does not have adequate experience reading and writing early, they may develop a language processing problem. An example of a language processing problem is a child whose brain is not able to understand the connections between the visual and the sound of letters. This child may see the letter “B,” for example, but not understand that it makes a “b” sound.
What is a math processing problem?
A child with a math processing problem will have difficulty processing numbers and mathematical concepts. This can be caused by dyslexia, a medical condition, or a disability. It can also be caused by not having enough experience with numbers and math. This also can be treated with skilled remediation, medication, and making adjustments to the way assignments are given. It can also be treated by providing an introduction to numbers and math early.
If a child does not have adequate experience with numbers and math early, they may develop a math processing problem. An example of a math processing problem is a child whose brain is not able to understand the connection between numbers, like the difference between a 5 and a 7, and the amount of those numbers.
What is an academic learning difficulty?
- An academic learning difficulty is a condition in which a child has difficulty learning from the usual methods.
- An academic learning difficulty can be caused by a processing disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit disorder, language processing problems, or other conditions.
- An academic learning difficulty can also be caused by a lack of instruction. It is important to note that not all students who struggle with learning have a disability. Some students just learn at a different rate than others.
- An example of an academic learning difficulty is a child whose brain has trouble processing information. This can cause difficulty with reading, writing, and math. It can also cause difficulty with organization and social skills.
Strategies for Teaching Children with Academic Learning Difficulties
Skilled remediation techniques, by qualified expert teachers equipped to deal with learning barriers, are especially helpful for students with processing disorders. A school psychologist can help you understand what accommodations and modifications your child needs and how to best implement them. The school psychologist can also provide you with tools to help your child at home, like communication tools, to foster success. The best way to help your child succeed is to involve them in the process. Let your child know what they need and be open to their ideas on how that can be achieved.
Japari School has a fantastic track record in assisting the learning of children who face learning barriers, including processing problems and academic learning difficulties. Parents have also been encouraged by the results of our input into Grade 6s and 7s, to prepare them for mainstream high schooling.
Why Understanding Barriers to Learning Matters
Teaching children with learning barriers is difficult; it requires extra time, patience, and creativity. Many teachers are willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed, but they may not have the resources or training to provide the best experience. By educating yourself on your child’s barriers and working with teachers to provide the best environment, you can foster a love of learning and help your child succeed.
How Japari School makes a difference teaching children with Barriers to Learning
We provide a school environment that is non-judgemental, safe and supportive. We aim to improve each child’s self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as their academic, social and emotional skills. We work with children that might struggle with general learning and who might need remedial support. We believe that every child is smart and has something to teach us, and it is our responsibility to nurture and grow this potential. We are passionate about what we do, and we want to share that passion with you.