A learning disability is when a student has a “glitch” in the way he learns. The student has average or above intelligence, may be gifted in some area, is receiving appropriate and consistent instruction, and yet struggles daily in one or more academic areas. This child’s brain is wired differently, but he or she can still learn and progress.
You can help by choosing an appropriate program to remediate the problem or by teaching the student how to compensate. None of the resources shared here are magic but when used diligently and consistently they will work. Teaching a child who has a learning disability requires patience, understanding, and lots of love. The more you know about how your child learns, the better you will understand how to help him or her. As you read through the resources below, be sure to click on the underlined titles to access HLA’s webpages on each specific disability.
Most children are going to have days when they complain about school, but when it becomes a daily experience parents should start asking why. Begin by looking at other areas of your child’s life. Does she complain excessively, constantly disagree with his siblings, and generally have a bad attitude? This may be a discipline problem or it could be a conflict between your teaching style and your child’s learning style. The resources below will assist you in determining if your child might have a learning disability.
Dr. Jerome Rosner offers advice in his book to help parents determine not only if a child has a learning problem, but also what the problem might be and how to work with it. Dr. Rosner’s book is not a silver bullet for parents, but rather provides a logical process to greater understanding and encouragement. This book contains simple methods of testing for auditory and visual perception problems, as well as includes simple, inexpensive methods for improving your child’s learning ability.
Home School Legal Defense Association, provides a free website full of information about struggling learners including checklists and resources.
It is common for young children to find it difficult to sit for long periods of time and enjoy schooling, but there are other means of providing beneficial educational experiences. Furthermore, some children really may need an extra year or more to mature before they are ready for a structured, traditional approach that incorporates textbooks and workbooks. Sadly, many typical children are diagnosed and medicated for ADHD just so they can sit and conform to a traditional classroom.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is very real and can be frustrating for parents as they watch their child struggle in school, at home and even in the community with extra-curricular activities. After decades of research, there are still two basic ways to deal with ADHD and each family will need to determine what works best for them.
- Behavioral: One is to accept the fact that you have an active, easily distracted child on your hands and modify your education to meet his needs. You might also consider common sense approaches such as diet, vitamin supplements, exercise and regular sleep schedules.
- Medical: The other way is to work with your pediatrician to find a medication that will calm your little one without any unnecessary side effects. This will be an ongoing process and should only be done after all options have been exhausted.
There are numerous books available about ADHD – too many to review them all, but the ones below can get you started. They are written by authors who’ve conducted decades of research and are respected in their fields, but have different points of view.
Thomas Armstrong is a prolific writer on neurodiversity, both as it applies to school and home. He believes ADHD is more of a benefit to society than a disease to be cured and provides more than 100 strategies for managing active children without resorting to labels, drugs or punishments.
Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell A. Barkley, recently updated (2020), provides information on getting an appropriate diagnosis, the pros and cons of various medications used for treatment and vast resources for children with ADHD.
How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On to Learning is written by the parent of an ADHD child, author Carol Barnier who understands what parents go through. She helps to free parents of the expectation of “normalizing” their child, and offers ideas to work within their child’s best learning style not only in school, but in life as well.
The symptoms of dyslexia commonly involve more than just reading problems. However, if your child is struggling to read, using resources that are designed for dyslexia is appropriate whether or not your child has an official diagnosis. For remediation of dyslexia to be highly effective, parents need to be diligent in identifying it as soon as students begin to experience failure to read.
The key to instruction for children exhibiting signs of dyslexia is finding a evidenced based multisensory curriculum based on the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching. HLA webpages list plenty of reading programs and our counselors are knowledgeable and experienced in helping parents make wise selections.
In Overcoming Dyslexia Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a leader in research into how the brain works, offers valuable information about reading problems and proven, practical techniques that can enable anyone to overcome them. This book is full of tools for parents and teachers to help the dyslexic child, age by age, grade by grade, step by step.
Hawthorne Publishers offers a Parent’s Guide to Learning Disabilities that covers 92 behavioral and academic skills that students struggle with. Each of the 92 skills comes with a long list of teaching tips that encompass reading, math, writing, handwriting, self-control and organization skills. This book is part of a series, has been around since 1991, and is still the most valuable resource I can recommend for homeschool parents teaching a child with learning disabilities.
Dyscalculia is a learning disability where students struggle with numbers when learning how to tell tell time, use money, memorize math facts, and retain commonly used numbers in memory. It may or may not coexist with dyslexia. Although there is less research in this area than with dyslexia, several experts have emerged over the last decade and provide solid advice, teaching strategies, and suggested math programs.
No matter what resource you choose to use, it is going to take time, patience, and one on one attention to help your child learn math.
founded by Renee Hamilton-Newman is the premier website for dyscalculia. This site can help you identify your child’s math problems using online assessment tools and checklists. Also, you’ll find lists of curriculum resources and plenty of recommendations for teaching a child with dyscalculia, dyscalculia.org.
Cognitive neuroscientist Brian Butterworth, a prolific author in the field of dyscalculia, offers a practical book for teachers and parents that gives a thorough understanding of this condition, as well as teaching strategies and activities to help students succeed in math.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that results in difficulty with written expression. Children with dysgraphia are able to orally express themselves fluently, but they can’t transfer their ideas to the page because they find writing difficult and even painful.
The frustrating struggle to write causes children to experience emotional stress and anxiety. Because they generally have good verbal skills, they are expected by others to write at the same level as they speak; hen they don’t, they may be mistakenly thought of as lazy or careless.
Handwriting Without Tears series (preK – 2nd or 3rd grade) comes highly recommended by most occupational therapists as an effective program for young students with dysgraphia. This program has been around for decades and continues to help students learn to write. The publishers have also created another series entitled Learning Without Tears.
Resources from HLA
- Books about people with exceptionalities
- Films about people with exceptionalities
- Teaching strategies for children with learning differences
- Assistive technology
- Multisensory/ multimodal instruction
Additional Website Resources