Schools, medical professionals and parents use many different terms for learning difficulties. Maybe you’ve heard other terms such as learning issues, learning disorders or learning disabilities, which can be confusing.
So what is a learning difficulty?
It is a broad term used to cover a wide range of challenges children may face at school and home. It is generally used when a child’s academic achievement is lower than expected for his developmental level, age or grade, and often covers children who are struggling but haven’t been formally identified with a disorder or disability.
Recognition and diagnosis of specific learning disorders such as a reading disorder (dyslexia), difficulties with math concepts and numbers (dyscalculia) and a writing disorder (dysgraphia) usually occurs during the early school years when children are required to learn to read, spell, write and learn mathematics.
Once my child starts school what should I look for?
The following list contains some common red flags for learning difficulties. Remember that children who don’t have a learning difficulty may still experience some of these at various times. The time for concern is when there is consistent unevenness in your child’s ability to master certain skills.
Things to be aware of:
Speaks later than most children.
Slow vocabulary growth, often unable to find the right word.
Trouble learning colours, days of the week, numbers, alphabet, shapes and nursery rhymes.
Difficulty following directions or routines.
Trouble interacting with peers.
Slow to develop fine motor skills.
Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds.
Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home).
Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+ - x ÷ = ).
Slow to learn new skills, relies heavily on memorisation.
Impulsive, planning difficulties, disorganised.
Poor coordination, unaware of physical surroundings, prone to accidents.
Where can I find help?
Knowing why your child has trouble with a particular area is the key to finding the best help. It may take time, but the following steps can help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your child’s challenges.
- Talk to your child’s Doctor
This is a great place to start figuring out what’s behind your child’s difficulties. Your doctor may be able to rule out medical reasons such as hearing or vision problems. He or she is also able to refer you to a specialist paediatrician for further evaluation if required.
- Talk to your child’s teacher
You know what you see at home, but the teacher can tell you how your child’s issues are affecting his learning and socialising. This information will also be helpful if you need to talk to a doctor or specialist about your concerns.
The Trinity Difference
At Trinity, your son’s teacher has access to a range of specialist staff through Trinity Education Support Services (TESS).
The TESS team includes:
Specialist teachers in learning support, gifted and talented education, English as a Second Language (ESL, for students from non-English speaking backgrounds) and careers education and guidance.
Special project personnel such as Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Teacher’s Aides.
The TESS team aims to identify a student’s individual learning needs early in their school life, and make appropriate action plans.
We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for a little over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed. To learn more about how Trinity supports boys with special needs download our Prospectus.