Teach English in Wuxun Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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There is a difference between a learning difficulty and learning disability. Learning difficulties refer to a wide variety of learning problems that don’t affect the general intelligence of an individual. They are neurologically based processing problems. However, a learning disability is linked to an overall cognitive impairment. Circumstances in a child’s life can impact their ability to gain knowledge and skills at the same rate as his/her peers. A learning difficulty is not a reflection of the child intellect or motivation. Children with learning difficulties brains are just wired differently to their peers. They simply receive and process information, such as what they see, hear and understand, differently to others. This can be problematic when it comes to learning basic skills such as reading, writing and maths as well as trying to utilise these skills. It can also influence higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long and short-term memory and attention. Teachers need to be aware of the significant impact these learning difficulties have on the individual’s life beyond their academics. It impacts relationships with families and friends and may even influence their workplace as the child matures. Often these children will have more than one specific learning difficulty, for example they might have dyslexia and dyspraxia together. Other learning difficulties include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dysphasia, audio and visual processing problems, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and autism. No two individuals’ difficulties are exactly the same. One child’s learning difficulties will look very different from another and often it is not easy to identify the specific difficulty. Signs and symptoms vary significantly, however warning signs are more common at school ages. It is during these years that learning difficulties are often diagnosed. If teachers and parents are vigilant and are able to catch it early and quickly, steps can be taken to get the child help. Some signs and symptoms at preschool age include, word pronunciation problems, rhyming difficulties, struggling to learn the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes, days of the week, trouble with buttons, zips, press studs, tying shoe laces, difficulty holding and controlling crayons, pencils, scissors just to name a few. Signs and symptoms between the ages of 5 to 9 years, may include struggling to connect letters and sounds, slow working memory, difficulty learning basic maths concepts and trouble telling the time. Ages 10 to 13 years signs and symptoms may consist of poor handwriting and organisational skills, trouble with reading comprehensions or maths, dislike and avoidance to read aloud and struggling to follow class discussions and express thoughts. Bear in mind that these are just a few of the many signs and symptoms teachers and parents need to be aware of. If a teacher or parent flags any of the above-mentioned difficulties in their classroom or at home, it is advised that the parents take the child to an Educational Psychologist or medical specialist to be assessed. These professionals work in partnership with families and teachers to help children to reach their full potential. Educational psychologists use their training in psychology and knowledge of child development to assess the child’s difficulties. After the assessment they provide advice and training to schools on strategies to help the child learn more effectively. Examples of strategies include alternative teaching approaches, advice on curriculum materials, adaptations to the learning environment and behavioural support. Learning difficulties can’t be cured or fixed. They are lifelong challenges, but with the right support and intervention children and adults can overcome them and achieve success in school, work and in relationships.