The very first step a child takes into their kindergarten class on a sunny September morning is the beginning of their journey into the world of academic achievement. While some of them whiz from one grade to the next in flying colors, there are other kids who struggle no matter how hard or how much they try.
For most children, a new school year is one of promise, of new friends, new learning experiences, and a new adventure into the world of knowledge. But for some, the picture is quite different; the promise is of daunting learning experiences, more disappointments and greater struggles.
Different for Each Child
As school experience differs greatly from one child to another, it is up to us as parents and educators to make it as enriching and enjoyable as possible, so let’s take a step back and understand how learning happens inside our children’s brains.
To talk about learning, we must talk about cognitive skills, the tools that enable the child to learn, think, process information and accomplish every task they do, at school and outside, like playing sports, music, doing art and all other activities.
What are Cognitive Skills?
Cognitive skills such as attention skills, memory, processing speed, visual and auditory processing and logic and reasoning are the foundation of all learning, at any age and any stage. They work together in coherence to make learning possible.
When reading for instance, a child uses auditory processing which is essential for decoding, visual processing, memory, speed and logic. These are essential for comprehension. Attention is the child’s ability to focus for a little duration without getting distracted or side tracked and it is a key skill for reading. All these skills work together to achieve reading fluency.
It is therefore vital that these skills are strong, for your child to learn and think, easily and efficiently.
Research has shown that roughly 80% of learning difficulties are a direct result of cognitive skills weaknesses. Difficulties in reading, writing, comprehension, math, slow work, poor memory, lack of focus, or low motivation are only symptoms of weak cognitive skills.
Signs of Cognitive Skills Weakness
If they exist in your child or student, you might want to investigate more. You can find a permanent solution to deal with the problems causing these symptoms. Here are some more signs to watch out:
- Avoids hard or complicated work
- Continuously reverses letters and words
- Has difficulties sounding out words and spelling
- Struggles to understand or comprehend what was read
- Is always one of the last kids to complete a task at school or at home
- It takes them forever to get started on their homework and eventually finish doing it
- Is disorganized and frustrated when studying
- Has problems creating mental pictures from a word math problem
- Has trouble paying attention/staying on task
- Forgets instructions or what was said or read earlier
- Keeps making the same careless errors without realizing it
- Does things that don’t seem to make sense
- Lacks confidence, especially in new and unfamiliar situations
- Has problems making or keeping friends
Many parents turn to tutoring as an answer to their children’s academic struggles. While tutoring can help a child pass an exam or get their homework done, it is only a short term solution to a long term problem. If you think of it, tutoring is re- teaching what should have been learnt in the first place, but wasn’t because of poor skills.
For years it was thought that success or struggle in school leave an indelible stamp on a child’s learning journey. But new advances in science can reverse things. Now there are tools to measure your child’s skills. These amazing tools can pinpoint the underlying causes of your child’s struggle with learn. Their scientific and proven approach will eventually help your child overcome their hurdles in learning, once and for all.
If your child is struggling in their studies and you need to make a decision whether to go for tutoring or something more advanced, consider the following points:
• Your child needs help with only one specific subject
• Their difficulties arose because they have just moved to a new school
• They can get understand the concept if it’s explained just one more time
• They have missed some classes due to an illness or family responsibilities
• Are generally doing well or within average but need a boost in particular classes
If your child’s learning difficulties are limited to the above factors, tutoring might be the right option for them.
While tutoring for kids is the perfect solution in certain situations, it might not always be the best long term and effective strategy. For a very high percentage of children who struggle in their studies, it is due to weaknesses in the underlying skills needed for learning.
If you’re wondering if your child falls into this category, consider the following questions:
- Does your child have chronic difficulties with learning, struggling with more than one subject for an extended period of time?
- Are they too slow and don’t seem to be able to finish their school or homework on time?
- Do they have poor reading capabilities that don’t seem to get better with conventional remedial methods?
- Are they unable to retain new information?
- Do they constantly fidget and need to be reminded to pay attention?
- Do they work hard but get very little results, especially in tests?
- Do they feel they’re stupid, not smart, or can’t make it no matter how hard they try?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, it means that your child’s learning difficulties result from poor cognitive skills and can only be overcome by fixing the cause, in other words, by training the brain and strengthening their cognitive abilities.
Whether you choose tutoring or brain training for your child, it is important to make your decision as soon as possible to help them by training the children with life skills development, since delaying such things could exacerbate your child’s difficulties.