Is Your Child Struggling Academically at School?

How do I know if my child is struggling academically in school?

Do you know that 3 – 5 students in every classroom are struggling?  Who are these children and what do they look like?

Smart but not learning in school makes everyone frustrated, teachers and parents know this student is capable because he does just enough to show how bright he is so they label him unmotivated, attention deficit or worse a behaviorally disordered student.  In reality he is dyslexic and when we look beneath the surface behavior of talking too much, being the class clown, and doing just enough to “get by” the reason why he is getting all “working below standard” in 2nd grade will become apparent.

Why do some kids struggle in school?

child struggling at school

Not everyone perceives what they see or hear in the same way.  If you are termed dyslexic, it means you are in one of three categories:

  1. Not able to focus your eyes on the text even though you have 20 x 20 vision
  2. Not able to discriminate the differences in sounds even though your hearing is perfectly normal, 
  3. A combination of both visual and auditory deficits.

Assuming IQ is average, why would anyone have difficulty learning?  You must explore visual perception and/or auditory perception as a contributor to the puzzle.  This can be checked out by specially trained therapists in vision, a developmental optometrist and in hearing, an audiologist or speech pathologist trained in auditory processing deficit.

How do I help my child who is struggling in school?

When the teacher tells you “he will outgrow it”, run to  a specialist who can pinpoint what the problem is. If your child is not able to match the sound with the letter by the end of Kindergarten, they will not outgrow it.  I’m really surprised people are still being told this in light of what we know from brain research going on today. If your child is not able to do what the average child can do in the classroom, then there is a very real possibility that he or she is one of the 15 million children in America struggling with reading in school.  It is easily identified and just as easily corrected. Why prolong the suffering?

How do I motivate my child to do well in school?

I have yet to meet a young child that did not wake up every morning wanting to succeed in school.  The children I have known (and they number in the thousands at this point) all want to please their teachers and parents by doing well in reading and math.  From birth, their prime directive is to make sense of the world around them. Once they are in a downward spiral at school and feeling like they can’t learn because they are unable to perform as the others in their class, the next thought in their mind is “I must be dumb”.  Frustration leads to refusal because they would rather be seen as stubborn rather than stupid. This is hard for parents to understand because they see how hard the homework is – yet know he is capable, funny, engaging, and smart.

How does Encinitas Learning Center can help?

What we do is a screening that looks at the seven pillars of learning.

It is brief, only 20 minutes to be able to see how this child is handling the tasks being asked of him at school.  We check visual processing speed, ability to track with both eyes, and identify shapes even when they are turned differently in space.  All of these have to do with Visual Perception – and we take in so much information this way! Next we look at ability to discriminate English sounds, sequence them in words, and break them down cognitively into segments.  This all has to do with Auditory Processing skills. Finally, we look at logic and reasoning which tells us about cognitive abilities. There are also some subtests that measure Word Attack (reading) but we use nonsense words so that can tell if the child understands the rules of the language – and, of course, spelling acuity.

From this simple screening, we can determine what skills are in need of further investigation.  If visual perception is low, then we refer to the Developmental Optometrist for further investigation.  If the auditory perception is low, then they need to go to the Audiologist. These two disciplines can deep dive into how your child’s brain is perceiving the world around them and identify the specific area to be remediated.  

If it is Auditory Processing Deficit, that’s where Encinitas Learning Center comes into the picture.  We have training programs that actually build new neural pathways in the brain and speed up processing so that sounds that were missed before are now clearly heard and remembered.  Once the brain establishes this new “set point” of knowing, it never returns to the old inefficient way it was processing before. In order to convince the brain to do this, we have to work intensively, at least three times weekly for three months, one to one with the therapist.  We want to make sure the student is challenged in every session, but not frustrated by the training, so the design of the therapy is to allow for 80% success with 20% challenges to be faster and more accurate.

Since ELC has been doing this training for more than 20 years, we now get to revisit our students to see how they have matriculated through school and into their careers.  It is nothing short of miraculous to see an 8th grade non-reader get early acceptance to MIT and flourishing in a very successful career as a 30 year old.

The stories are so gratifying and so many since more than 3,000 lives have been touched in that time.  It is important work and something of which parents need to be made aware. There is no reason your child should be struggling in school when we know why they are and can identify the problem readily.  There is no reason they should be given accommodations when, through the research that has been around for twenty years, we have the tools to correct the problem and make these students able to compete within the general education population and be successful.  

I want our young people choosing a life’s path out of a sense of strength that they can follow what interests them and be empowered.  ELC stands by that promise through brain training.