Some children find it difficult to read or write. Others find it difficult to understand what they read. Some children struggle to make friends. But the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated, the better. The key is intervention.
For most children, starting school is a joyful experience. Your child is ready to embrace learning how to read, write and do math. Success at school is a very important first step. And early intervention is key when things don’t go to plan.
Sometimes expectations aren’t met. This leaves you with an unhappy child. They struggle with math, reading, writing, making new friends and paying attention in class. You approach the teacher who tells you not to worry, and says, “let’s wait a while.”
But is waiting a good idea? How long should the child be uncomfortable at school? Roughly 10% of the schoolgoing population experience some form of learning difficulty. These difficulties are often generic in origin. One or both parents, an uncle, cousin or grandfather has experienced difficulties at school.
Early intervention is key
Scientists can now actually detect the results of intervention on a child’s brain. Getting specialist help will assist children with dyslexia, or reading disabilities. However, it does require intense, frequent, systematic and explicit intervention. The dyslexic child – because of his weak ability to analyse sounds – requires the sound system of the language taught to him in a systematic fashion.
Articulation difficulties should be treated before the age of six by a speech and language therapist. The child with writing difficulties may require an assessment by an occupational therapist specialising in developmental motor coordination.
A child with attention or behaviour problems will benefit from a full assessment by an educational psychologist. Sometimes, a child can have multiple needs, falling in the domain of different therapists. For example, the speech therapist identifies a difficulty with phonological awareness in your child (when he or she has difficulty manipulating sounds in words).
That’s because the child has difficulty with phonemes, or the smallest units of sound in language. For instance, when asked to take away the ‘c’ in cat, he or she is unable to reply ‘at’.
For a child with multiple difficulties, a full-time specialist school with appropriate therapy (where your child will find him or herself in a small supportive classroom environment) would be more suitable. You’ll find that your child is more relaxed. Seeing that he or she is not alone in experiencing difficulties in the classroom does them the world of good.
Remember, help is at hand for the majority of school related difficulties. Only, don’t leave it too late. Early intervention is key. Don’t let your child lose confidence or develop a poor self-image. Heightened emotional response to stress in school can be avoided. Don’t delay.