Medication and counseling are certainly crucial as prescribed by a specialist, but what are some natural ways we can help children with learning disabilities?
That is the million-dollar question, as everyone learns differently. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
There are, however, several strategies adaptable to different students with different learning disabilities, styles, and strengths, which have time and again worked wonders.
Today, we are going to look at seven of them.
Knowing How A Child Learns Best Makes All the Difference
It was Erin Brockovich who pointed out that she had problems with written tests at school.
When asked the questions orally, she passed with flying colors!
Despite her struggles with formal schooling, she went on to play a pivotal role in the case against the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) for the contamination of drinking water in California in 1993.
Now a legal clerk and activist, Erin Brockovich’s inspiring story was even retold by Hollywood in the 2000 film by her name, starring Julia Roberts as Brockovich.
The moral of this story is that teachers need to take kids’ learning disabilities on board when assessing students.
Parents and education authorities should be aware of this too.
If your child is experiencing difficulties reading, concentrating, spelling, etc., don’t write it off as laziness or lack of effort, or worse, lack of intelligence.
Your child is most likely experiencing some kind of learning difficulty.
It could be difficulty interpreting words and letters, difficulty seeing the page correctly, or just a learning style that processes information in a different way.
What We Need to Prioritize When Figuring Out A Child’s Learning Strategies
Before we look at the 7 natural ways to help learning disabilities, let us look at what our overall aims should be.
Once we have discovered just what is blocking the learning process, we should then think of ways that can give the child:
- Specific coping skills so that learning becomes more intuitive
- Ways to build self-esteem
- Show the child new ways to approach a learning task
- Co-ordinated help when both parents and teachers are working in tandem to resolve the learning issues. An IEP (individualized educational plan) worked out with the school helps.
- Help kids enjoy learning
With these goals in mind, let’s dive into the 7 natural ways we can help kids with learning disabilities.
(A disclaimer – as we mentioned at the very beginning, these strategies are by no means a replacement for a formal diagnosis, medication, counseling, or therapy.
These strategies work alongside what a specialist prescribes for your child, to complement them.)
7 Best Natural Ways To Help Learning Disabilities
1. Identify the Problem
First things first, figure out the exact origin of the problem. By doing this, we know what we need to address with our strategies.
One way of doing this is by testing out your child’s IQ. Not as a reflection of your child’s intelligence, but rather to pinpoint which areas of cognitive skill they are strong or weak in.
We don’t mean using one of those quizzes you come across aplenty when scrolling down Facebook, but a proper, scientifically structured one, carried out by a professional.
The critical thing to remember is that the scores don’t mean your child is not smart, but help you identify areas he or she can improve.
We may be able to identify conditions such as dyslexia, where the child has trouble interpreting the ordering of letters and words.
Dyslexia can lead to difficulties with reading, spelling, and even distinguishing right from left.
Another learning disability might be dysgraphia, where the student can read perfectly well. But when it comes to writing, there are problems in fitting letters and words into a confined space.
It is well known that up to 70% of children with ADHD also have a learning difficulty of one kind or another.
A reminder – a learning disability does not make your child less intelligent. It just means that they learn differently than others.
2. Rule Out Visual and Hearing Problems
Make sure that any vision and hearing issues are ruled out by having these checked.
Very often, these are the root cause. The source of your child’s distraction or fatigue when it comes to reading or studying could simply be an issue in their vision or hearing, which can be easily corrected.
3. Discover Your Child’s Learning Style
Some kids learn better by interacting with the environment, love hands-on stuff, and adore field trips.
These are kinesthetic learners.
Visual learners tend to do better when the material is in pictures, infographics, flashcards, maps, and charts, or any type of written text.
They do well in reading and spelling.
Auditory learners do better when listening and can thrive on reading aloud notes.
Some learners have a mixture of styles. Still, often one style dominates, and this can help us when presenting material in a different way or an alternative form.
Make sure you are liaising with the child’s teachers so that you can share progress and problem areas.
4. Discover Games and Activities That Can Help with Your Child’s Learning Disability
There are a lot of games that practice spelling, reading, and math calculations.
When these are done with running or some other physical activity, they will be even more beneficial. Your child will be having fun as well as exercising mentally and physically.
Another reminder – what works for some kids may not work for all.
Everyone has a different pace and preference. While some kids might prefer song and dance while learning, others will be happy sitting in a quiet corner by themselves.
It is vital to figure out what most motivates your child to learn and boost their enjoyment of the process.
5. Concentrate on Strengths, not Weaknesses
The child will often excel at several things, and we should build on these for increasing self-esteem.
In an environment where the child may be falling behind their peers due to their learning disability, they are likely to experience falling confidence and self-esteem.
To ensure that they remain motivated, find the things that interest them, and focus learning around these activities.
Does your child like to draw? Draw out the words or the scenes of the vocabulary you are learning, or story you’re reading.
Does your child like to play? Incorporate activities like spelling or simple mental math into their jump-rope sessions or hopscotch.
The focus is on playing up to their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
6. Learn About How Lifestyle and Diet Can Help
There are hundreds of studies that have shown that a healthier diet does aid better learning.
We know that a diet with complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, protein, and less sugar and salt can boost memory and aid learning.
Also, proper sleep and exercise will be beneficial.
Bach floral remedies that contain clematis, impatiens, and chestnut can help.
Herbal remedies containing California poppy, catnip, gingko biloba, and grapeseed extract can all improve the learning process.
7. Talk to Your Child
Quite possibly, the most crucial advice we can give is communication – communicate openly and with understanding.
Let your child know you are there for them, and they don’t have to be afraid to let you know they are struggling.
Asking your child about what problems they have, how they are progressing, and, above all, what they need most is of paramount importance.
Parents are the kids’ greatest support system.
Many teachers are too busy and stressed out to notice individual needs or problem areas.
Do you, the parent, know what these are? You, then, are responsible for drawing the teacher’s attention to it, to ensure your child is learning in an environment optimum for their success.
These are our recommendations for 7 natural ways to help learning disabilities.
Which tips did you find helpful? Which ones have helped your child?
We would love to know!
Robert Locke MBE is a health enthusiast specializing in children’s health and has written extensively on ADHD, parenting, mental health, anxiety and depression. You can discover more about parenting and the 7 best natural ways to help learning disabilities by visiting Problem Kids Blog. There are several more tips there in addition to these 5 best ways to improve your grades before the end of the school year.
[ Updated October 8, 2020 ]