Seven Tips for Helping Children with Learning Disabilities

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

School isn’t easy for many children, but for those who have learning disabilities, it can be even more of a challenge. If you have a child with a disability such as dyslexia, autism, dysgraphia, or an intellectual disability, it’s important that you get and give your child the help needed to succeed in school. Here are several tips:

  1. Play to your child’s strengths. Although one subject or skill might be difficult for your child, something else might be a strength. Autistic children, for example, are often superior in a certain area (such as math or music) but have narrow interests. While that’s certainly a hurdle to overcome, you can help boost your child’s confidence and engagement in school by giving regular, multiple opportunities to do the thing(s) he or she enjoys.
  2. Get one-to-one tutoring. For many children with disabilities, attention issues are very common. Children who are easily distracted do better when a teacher is able to give them their undivided attention—as in a one-to-one setting. And for children with a disability like dyslexia, such a setting is critical to help the tutor focus on fluency, reading aloud and making corrections to reading in real time.
  3. Build brain breaks into learning. With focus being a common issue for students with disabilities, it’s key to find ways to make them feel like they’re taking a break while still learning. Actual breaks are helpful too, but tools like flashcards and math games can go a long way toward keeping your child engaged in homework and learning.
  4. Work with the special education team. You are probably already quite connected with school specialists that help children with learning disorders and learning disabilities, but regular meetings and calls about your child’s progress and success in the classroom are a good idea. Stay up to date on the modifications your child is receiving at school and what is working well (and what is not).
  5. Use a “chunking” approach to school work. Children with learning disabilities or deficiencies can easily become overwhelmed by too much information in front of them or long lists of multi-step assignments. During homework sessions, help your child break bigger assignments down into manageable daily steps. Doing so will help your child feel less stress and more focused.
  6. Encourage highlighting of information. When reading, highlighting is a useful reading comprehension tool. By highlighting important words or sections in a text, your child can refer back to the necessary information later on when needed—for studying for tests, for example.
  7. Help your child talk through ideas first. Writing assignments can be some of the most frustrating and difficult for children with learning disabilities. Children with dysgraphia, for example, have difficulty forming letters when writing and organizing their thoughts on paper. If your child is better at explaining things than writing them out, you can help by encouraging him or her to talk out loud before doing any writing. This helps with idea capture and minimizing frustration.

Of course, diagnosis is vital as well. If you know your child is struggling in school and suspect it might be due to a learning disability, reach out to your school, which can do academic and psychological testing to explore what’s going on.

And while diagnosis is essential, taking action to help your child is equally important. Whether your child has a diagnosed learning disability or another disorder or impairment such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Huntington can help your child be successful in school. 

Our Academic Performance Coach program helps students by providing consistent, structured support throughout the academic year. From working on time management skills to test preparation, study skills to organizing daily assignments, our performance coaches can help your child stay on track this year.  Or perhaps you child needs assistance with Homework?  We’ve got that too.  Huntington Homework delivers one-to-one instruction with a Huntington certified tutor that will help with all K-12 homework needs including subject specific, projects and assignments, and more. 

Call us to learn more about our many of our one-to-one tutoring services that help children of all ages boost their grades and their confidence.