Getting Started At Home
10 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children With Learning Disabilities (LD)
Learn more about learning disabilities
Information on learning disabilities can help you understand that your child does not learn in the same way as other people do. Find out as much as you can about the problems your child has with learning, what types of learning tasks will be hard for your child, what sources of help are available, and what you can do to make life and learning easier for your child. You can find much of the information you need by reading this web site and following links to outside resources.
Become an unobtrusive detective
Look for clues that can tell you how your child learns best. Does he or she learn best through looking, listening, or touching? What is your child's weakest approach to learning? Also pay attention to your child’s interests, talents and skills. All this information can be of great help in motivating and fostering your child's learning.
Teach through your child’s areas of strength
For example, he or she may have great difficulty reading information but readily understand when listening. Take advantage of that strength. Rather than force reading, which will present your child with a “failure” situation, let your child learn new information by listening to a book on tape or watching a video.
Respect and challenge your child’s natural intelligence
He or she may have trouble reading or writing, but that doesn’t mean learning can’t take place in many other ways. Most children with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence that can be engaged and challenged through using a multi-sensory approach. Taste, touch, seeing, hearing and moving are valuable ways of gathering information.
Remember that mistakes don’t equal failure
Your child may have the tendency to see his or her mistakes as huge failures. You can model, through good-humored acceptance of your own mistakes, that mistakes can be useful. They can lead to new solutions. They are not the end of the world. When your child sees you taking this approach to mistakes “your own and the mistakes of others” he or she can learn to view his or her mistakes in the same light.
Recognize that there may be some things your child won’t be able to do or will have lifelong trouble doing
Help your child to understand that this doesn’t mean he or she is a failure. After all, everyone has something they can’t do. Capitalize on the things your child can do.
Be aware that struggling with your child over reading, writing, and homework can draw you into an adversarial position with your child
The two of you will end up angry and frustrated with each other, which sends the message to your child that, yet again, he or she has failed. You can contribute positively to your child’s schooling by participating actively in the development of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and by sharing with the school the special insights about your child that only you as a parent have.
Use television creatively
Television, or videos, can be a good medium for learning. If the child is helped to use it properly, it is not a waste of time. For example, your child can learn to focus, sustain attention, listen carefully, increase vocabulary, and see how the parts fit together to make a whole. You can augment learning by asking questions about what was seen. What happened first? Then what happened? How did the story end? Such questions encourage learning of sequence, an area that causes trouble for many children with learning disabilities. Be patient, though. Because your child does not see or interpret the world in the same way you do, progress may be slow.
Make sure books are at your child’s reading level
Most children with learning disabilities will be reading below grade level. To experience success at reading, then, it’s important that they have books to read that are on their reading level. Foster reading by finding books on topics of interest to your child, or by reading to him. Also let your child choose his or her own books to read.
Encourage your child to develop his or her special talent
What is your child good at? What does he or she especially enjoy? Encouraging your child to pursue areas of talent lets him or her experience success and discover a place to shine.
Adapted from the February 2004 Briefing Paper by the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY).