Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Helping Your Slow Learning Child

by Alan Haskvitz

It’s no surprise children learn at different rates, and, according to some published research, only when they are ready.  Other research stresses intrinsic rewards, differentiated curriculum, and motivation by personalizing lessons.  However, the bottom line for many educators is that some children are slow to learn, but don’t have a learning deficiency.

Perhaps the greatest challenge to an educator is a child who is a slow learner. These children do not fall into the category of special education, do well outside the classroom, and show no evidence of having a medical problem. They simply do not do well in school or a particular subject.  

In the days before formal schooling, these students would carry on productive lives working at tasks that did not require extensive reading, writing or math.  However, today the emphasis is less on occupational learning and more on academic preparation.  Thus, there is a growing need for help to remediate these children and provide them the best possible opportunities in a changing world.

Having successfully taught for nearly 30 years in several states and countries, I’ve seen two commonalities emerge with slow learners.  First, they need extra time to complete tasks.  This means parents must be willing to augment what happens at school regardless of how fruitless it might appear.  Secondly, the child must be offered appropriate incentives.  Depending on the child, the best incentives are family projects or activities, such as building a model or attending a concert or game.  The incentives should require delayed gratification, so the child learns patience.

The next area is proper nutrition.  Children need breakfast.  Period.  Every study done points out a quality breakfast and proper sleep are the two best ways to improve student performance.

Finally, a teacher or parent must seek lessons and other resources that make it easier to differentiate the curriculum and make learning more vital and relevant.  To this end, special education sites on the Internet have some great ideas.  Although slow learners do not qualify for special education classes, the concepts teachers use with special education students are ideal for helping a slow learner once the student’s weaknesses have been diagnosed.  In any one of my classes, about 10 percent are slow learners, so having a slow learning child is not unusual.

One of the best places to start looking for help is at Reach Every Child, Special Education, where you can find a wide range of helpful sites.  Also at Get Help Teaching Special NeedsStudents. 

Characteristics of Slow Learners
In general, slow learning students may display some or all of these characteristics, depending on their age and degree of problems acquiring knowledge at school. 
·  First, slow learners are frequently immature in their relations with others and do poorly in school.
·  Secondly, they cannot do complex problems and work very slowly. 
·  They lose track of time and cannot transfer what they have learned from one task to another well.  
·  They do not easily master skills that are academic in nature, such as the times tables or spelling rules.
·  Perhaps the most frustrating trait is their inability to have long-term goals.  They live in the present, and so have significant problems with time management probably due to a short attention span and poor concentration skills.

Remember, just because a child is not doing well in one class does not make that student a slow learner.  Very few children excel in all subject areas unless there is great deal of grade inflation at that school.  So it’s essential the parent or teacher examine in depth standardized tests scores to look for trends.  

Also, slow learners differ from reluctant learners.  A slow learner initially wants to learn, but has a problem with the process.  A reluctant learner is not motivated and can also be passive aggressive, creating more problems for teachers and parents through non-cooperation.  Reluctant learners seldom have learning disabilities.

Proven Ideas to Help Slow Learners
·  Provide a quiet place to work, where the child can be easily observed and motivated.
·  Keep homework sessions short.
·  Provide activity times before and during homework.
·  Add a variety of tasks to the learning even if not assigned, such as painting a picture of a reading assignment.
·  Allow for success.
·  Ask questions about the assignment while the child is working.
·  Go over the homework before bed and before school.
·  Teach how to use a calendar to keep track of assignments.
·  Read to the child.
·  Use my “Three Transfer” form of learning, in which the student must take information and do three things with it beside reading.  For example, read it, explain it to someone else, draw a picture of it, and take notes on it.
·  Be patient but consistent.
·  Do not reward unfinished tasks.

Challenge the Child
  • Have the child do the most difficult assignments first and leave the easier ones to later. Call it the dessert principle.
  • Don’t be overprotective. Students whose parents frequently intercede at school are teaching that they do not respect their child’s abilities.  If you do call a teacher, make sure you seek a positive outcome.  Remember most teachers have worked with numerous slow learners and have plenty of experience.  However, sharing your child’s strengths and weaknesses could make the school year more beneficial for all concerned.
  • Contact the teacher if there is a concern.  Calling an administrator solves nothing, as the teacher is the sole legal judge of academic success. 
  • Take your child to exciting places where they can see academic success is important.  A trip to a local university or community college, a walking tour of city hall, a visit to the fire station or a behind-the-scenes tour of a zoo are highly motivating.

Examples of Interventions for Slow Learners
  • Environment: Reduce distractions, change seating to promote attentiveness, have a peer student teacher, and allow more breaks.
  • Assignments: Make them shorter and with more variation, repeat work in various forms, have a contract, give more hands-on work, have assignments copied by student, have students use “three transfer” method.
  • Assessment: Use shorter tests, oral testing, redoing tests, short feedback times, don’t make students compete.
  • What to avoid: Don’t use cooperative learning that isolates the student and places him or her in a no-win situation or standardized tests.  Definitely don’t ignore the problem.
  • What to encourage: Grouping with a patient partner. Learning about the child’s interests. Placing the student in charge.  Mapping, graphic organizers, and hands-on work. Using Bloom’s taxonomy of tasks to make the assignments more appropriate. 

How to Teach Slow Learning Kids

by Christiana Sayyah

Any parent or gaurdian who has a child who is a slow learner knows how frustrating teaching them something simple like their ABC's can be. It's not that the child has a retardation or learning disablility, but they are just slow learners. Everyone learns at their own pace, and I've found it easiest to associate fun things and things your child is interested in with what you are trying to teach them. If you peak their interest, they are more likely to retain the information faster. In this article, I will go through different methods of teaching your child so they can be on their way to a brighter future, faster.

You can tell your child something until you're blue in the face and it usually doesn't seem to make a difference, but this is not the case when it comes to learning. The more you go over something, the more it will begin to make sense to your child.

For example, when I was a child, I was read to every single night. I got to the point where I had memorized the books that were being read to me and could fool people into thinking I was actually reading them (and this was at the age of four or five).

The more a child hears something, the more likely they are to retain that information. This requires a bit of effort on your part, however. Most parents these days are very busy and its hard for them to set aside time every night for something like reading a story to their child, but it is most important and will help them immensely once they get to school. The same is true for math, writing, and all other subjects. Repetition is key.

Make it Fun
By the time you've repeated 1 + 1 = 2 to your child 50 times and they still don't understand, not only are you frustrated, but so are they. They've probably also lost interest in what you're telling them long ago.
For math, use flash cards or actual objects. For example, use matches or crayons (something in abundance). Manifesting the numbers into objects will help the child understand more clearly what you are really saying. You could also use objects the child likes so they will pay attention longer. You could use mini candies and reward the child with one after each correct answer.

For ABC's and other memorization, making songs or singing the songs you already know will help a great deal. Songs are more fun for kids than simply reciting numbers, letters, or shapes. If you can't seem to make one up on your own, ask a friend, a spouse, or try to find cartoons that specifically teach these things through song. It's best if you try to make up the songs yourself, though, because your child will feel more special that you are taking the time to help them. They won't feel like they are learning; they'll feel like they are playing, but all the while your goals will be accomplished too.

Incentives and Positive Reinforcement
Children respond well to incentives and positive reinforcement. Although this may seem obvious, it is key to keep your child's interest and make them feel accomplished. Offering candies, hugs, apple slices, whatever works for you and your child for a right answer will keep them on task and inspire them to keep learning.

You need to congratulate your child on a job well done after every correct answer and at the end of each learning session. This will make them feel empowered and give them something to look forward to for next time.

Times to Teach
You definitely don't want to sit your child down for hours on end, as their attention spans are not that lengthy. 15-20 minutes sessions a couple times a day, or even once a day, won't burn you or your child out and will make this time you share together even more special. If you are including the positive reinforcement and incentives, your child will probably ask for this learning time every day.

You may want to have this learning time in between breakfast and lunch, if you can. If you are home in the evening, after dinner and before bed (though not right before bed) is also a good time. These are times when you and your child are both fed and alert. They won't be too sleepy and they will have plenty of energy.

Don't lose your cool. Remember, these children may not be giving you the answers because they don't want to participate, but because they just don't know. Go over the material every day until your child improves. It can be a long process, but your child will be thanking you for it someday.

Just remember, repetition, make it fun, positive reinforcement, times to teach, and patience and you and your child will begin to see fantastic results. Don't be afraid to break out of the norm and try new things. And when all else fails, remembering patience will come in very handy.

The Facts About Learning Disabilities

A Quick Look
Learning disabilities are real. A person can be of average or above-average intelligence, not have any major sensory problems (like blindness or hearing impairment), and yet struggle to keep up with people of the same age in learning and regular functioning.

What is a learning disability? 
Learning Disability is not a single disorder. It is a term that refers to a group of disorders. LDs are neurological disorders that affect the brain's ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. The term learning disability is used to describe the seeming unexplained difficulty a person of at least average intelligence has in acquiring basic academic skills. These skills are essential for success at school and work, and for coping with life in general.

How can one tell if a person has a learning disability? 
Learning disabilities can affect a person's ability in the areas of Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing and Mathematics. Other features of a learning disability are:
  • A distinct gap between the level of achievement that is expected and what is actually achieved 
  • Difficulties that can become apparent in different ways with different people 
  • Difficulties that manifest themselves differently throughout development 
  • Difficulties with socio-emotional skills and behavior. 

A learning disability is not a disease, so there is no cure, but there are ways to overcome the challenges it poses through identification and accommodation.
  • Identification : If there is reason to think a person might have LD, it is important to collect observations by parents, teachers, doctors and others regularly in contact with that person. If there does seem to be a pattern of trouble that is more than just an isolated case of difficulty, the next step is to seek help from school or consult a learning specialist for an evaluation. 
  • Accommodation and Modification: Depending on the type of learning disability and its severity, as well as the person's age, different kinds of assistance can be provided. People of all ages with LD should be protected against discrimination and have a right to different forms of assistance in the classroom and workplace. 

What causes learning disabilities? 
Experts aren't exactly sure what causes learning disabilities. LD may be due to:
  • Heredity - often learning disabilities run in the family, so it's not uncommon to find that people with LD have parents or other relatives with similar difficulties. 
  • Problems during pregnancy and birth - LD may be caused by illness or injury during or before birth. It may also be caused by drug and alcohol use during pregnancy, low birth weight, lack of oxygen and premature or prolonged labor. 
  • Incidents after birth - Head injuries, nutritional deprivation and exposure to toxic substances (i.e. lead) can contribute to LD. 

Learning disabilities are NOT caused by economic disadvantage, environmental factors or cultural differences. In fact, there is frequently no apparent cause for LD. Each type of strategy should be considered when planning instruction and support. A person with dysgraphia will benefit from help from both specialists and those who are closest to the person. Finding the most beneficial type of support is a process of trying different ideas and openly exchanging thoughts on what works best.

Are learning disabilities common? 
Currently, almost 2.9 million school-aged children in the US are classified as having specific learning disabilities (SLD) and receive some kind of special education support. They are approximately 5% of all school-aged children in public schools. These numbers do not include children in private and religious schools or home-schooled children. Studies show that learning disabilities do not fall evenly across racial and ethnic groups. LD is not caused by economic disadvantage, but the increased risk of exposure to harmful toxins (lead, tobacco, alcohol, etc.) at early stages of development are prevalent in low-income communities.

What can one do about learning disabilities? 
Learning disabilities are lifelong, and although they won't go away, they don't have to stop a person from achieving goals. Help is available if they are identified. Learning disabilities affect every person differently, and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Sometimes people have more than one learning disability. In addition, approximately one third of people with LD also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), which makes it difficult for them to concentrate, stay focused or manage their attention to specific tasks.

LD and children 
Early identification is vital in helping a child to succeed academically, as well as socially. If you think your child is displaying signs of a learning disability, share them with classroom teachers and others who come in contact with your child. Observe the way your child develops the language, motor coordination and social skills and behaviors important for success in school. And remember, early is better-even preschoolers can show signs of risk for LD. Don't panic. Not all children who are slow to develop skills have LD. If your child does have a learning disability, early intervention with specialized teaching strategies can help to overcome difficulties. As a parent, it is important to learn as much as you can and to help your child understand that he or she is not alone: other children struggle too, and adults are there to help.

LD and adulthood 
It is never too late to get help for a learning disability. Finding out about a learning disability can be a great relief to adults who could not explain the reason for their struggles in the past. Testing specialists are available for people of all ages, and assistance is available for every stage of life. Taking the initiative to seek out support and services than can provide help is the first step to overcoming a learning disability.
Many adults (some of whom are unaware of their LD) have developed ways to cope with their difficulties and are able to lead successful, functioning lives. LD shouldn't hinder a person from attaining goals. Regardless of the situation, understanding the specific challenges and learning strategies to deal with LD directly at every stage can alleviate a lot of frustration and make successful living much easier.

Fast Facts
What you should know about learning disabilities (LD): 
  • LDs are specific neurological disorders that affect the brain's ability to store, process or communicate information. 
  • "Specific learning disability" (SLD) is the term used in the federal law for any LD. 
  • LDs can affect different aspects of learning and functioning - see the chart below for specific types of learning disabilities and related disorders. 
  • LDs can be compensated for and even overcome through alternate ways of learning, accommodations and modifications. 
  • According to the US Department of Education, LDs affect approximately 5% of all children enrolled in public schools.*
  • LDs can occur with other disorders (AD/HD, Information Processing Disorders). 
  • LDs are NOT the same as mental retardation, autism, deafness, blindness, behavioral disorders or laziness. 
  • LDs are not the result of economic disadvantage, environmental factors or cultural differences. LD 

  • Area of difficulty: Processing language 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Reading , writing & spelling 
  • Example: Letters and words may be written or pronounced backwards 

  • Area of difficulty: Math skills 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Computation, remembering math facts, concepts of time & money 
  • Example: Difficulty learning to count by 2s, 3s, 4s 

  • Area of difficulty: Written expression 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Handwriting, spelling, composition 
  • Example: Illegible handwriting, difficulty organizing ideas 

  • Area of difficulty: Fine motor skills 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Coordination, manual dexterity 
  • Example: Trouble with scissors, buttons

Auditory Processing Disorder 
  • Area of difficulty: Interpreting auditory information 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Language development, reading 
  • Example: Difficulty anticipating how a speaker will end a sentence 

Visual Processing Disorder 
  • Area of difficulty: Interpreting visual information 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Reading , writing & math 
  • Example: Difficulty distinguishing letters like "h" and "n" 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) 
  • Area of difficulty: Concentration & focus 
  • Symptoms include trouble with: Over-activity, distractibility & impulsivity 
  • Example: Can’t sit still, loses interest quickly 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a learning disability?
  • Learning disability (LD) is the most common developmental disorder. 
  • A person who has a LD has a low IQ (low intelligence) and has problems adjusting to everyday life. 
  • Not all children with LD act the same. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. 
  • Each child with LD has different strengths and weaknesses. 

What causes it? 
  • The cause of many cases is unknown. 
  • It can be caused by injury, disease, infection, or parts of the brain not working right. 
  • It can be caused before a child is born, during the birthing process, soon after birth, or during childhood. 
  • Genetics can cause LD. Genes from the parents affect how the baby's brain works. 
  • Drug or alcohol use by a pregnant mother can cause LD in her child. 

How is it treated?
  • Treatment works best if the child is diagnosed with LD at an early age and it is treated right away. The goal of treatment is to help the child learn how to be a part of family and community life. 
  • Most children with LD can learn and some can lead independent lives. 
  • Talk to your doctor and teachers. Your child should be tested to see what her strengths and weaknesses are. Health care workers and teachers will use your child's strengths to teach her. 
  • Your doctor can help you get your child tested. Your child will need to be seen by many different professionals. 
  • Some of the professionals can help your child with education. Others can help with speech, vision, and hearing. Others can help with physical therapy or counseling. 
  • Treatment works best when the child's family and all of the professionals work together. 
  • Some medications may help your child. 
  • Professionals can help the whole family, not just the child with LD. Parents, brothers, sisters, and other people close to children with LD also need support. 

How long does it last? 
  • LD can usually not be cured, but many children can learn new things. 

Can it be prevented? 
  • Pregnant mothers should not drink alcohol or use drugs. 
  • Pregnant mothers should have regular doctor's appointments during pregnancy. 
  • Protect your child from head injuries. Children should wear helmets when riding bikes, skating, etc. Children should be placed in car seats or use seatbelts. 
  • If your child shows symptoms of meningitis, take her to the doctor immediately. 
  • Doctors can give babies blood tests soon after birth to see if they have certain conditions that could lead to LD. Some cases of LD can be prevented if treated soon enough. 

Learning Disabilities and the Arts
The arts are more than just a fun way to keep kids occupied. Art activities can help children with learning disabilities begin to overcome the challenges they face in learning in many different ways. Of course, having a learning disability does not necessarily mean that a person has an exceptional artistic talent. However, music, art, crafts and dance can give students with learning disabilities a chance to express themselves through different media and gain confidence along the way.

Unlocking confidence 
A feeling of self-worth - the knowledge that you can do something - is a critical part of the learning process. Children with learning disabilities often come to think they are incapable of learning because of their ongoing difficulties in school. A paintbrush, a costume, a drum or paper, scissors and glue can be new tools for self-expression that boost confidence while providing opportunities for learning.

Learning through art 
The arts can open the world of learning to students who have trouble with traditional teaching methods. The arts are intellectual disciplines - requiring complex thinking and problem solving - that offer students the opportunity to construct their own understanding of the world.
  • Drawing and painting reinforce motor skills and can also be a way of learning shapes, contrasts, boundaries, spatial relationships, size and other math concepts. 
  • Music teaches children about rhythm, sound and pitch. Beats can help children learn rhymes and phonological awareness. Using repetitive songs to learn academic facts (like the alphabet song or multiplication tables) can make the learning experience easier and more fun.
  • Dance provides children with a social way to learn about sequencing, rhythm and following directions. While developing coordination and motor control, students can also learn counting and directionality, which can enhance reading and writing concepts - such as understanding the difference between similar looking letters (like p/b/d/q) and telling left from right. 
  • Performing plays is an opportunity for children to immerse themselves in a theme and learn about it in a profound and personal way. Acting out historical or literary figures and events gives students a sense of ownership about what they've learned, allowing them to acquire a deeper appreciation of the subject matter. 
  • Crafts offer children the opportunity to express themselves in two- and three-dimensional ways. Students can develop vital problem-solving skills without having to rely on areas of expression that may be more challenging. 

Arts as a means of assessment 
Timed tests and take-home reports are traditional means of academic assessment that can be especially difficult for individuals with learning disabilities. Creative projects offer these students the freedom to show what they know without the constraints of printed text. Offering students art projects or multi-media presentations as a way to demonstrate an understanding of material they've learned can be an excellent alternative. Because a person has difficulty learning through hearing alone or seeing alone, that does not mean they cannot learn. The arts offer individuals with learning disabilities dynamic ways of learning, and just as importantly, a way to fully discover their own self-worth.

by The Kiwanis Disability Information and Support Centre
No. 21 Jalan SS3/82, Petaling Jaya, 47301, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: 03-7877 0096, Fax: 03-7877 8096 Email: info@disabilitymalaysia.com Website: www.disabilitymalaysia.com A Community Service Project of the Kiwanis Club of Pantai (KL)

About Mental Retardation/Learning Disability

By Malaysian Information Network on Disabilities MIND

Learning Disability/Intellectual Disability is a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of himself or herself, and social skills. These limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Children with learning disability may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. They are likely to have trouble learning in school. They will learn, but it will take them longer. There may be some things they cannot learn.

What Causes Learning Disability?
Doctors have found many causes of learning disability. The most common are:
  • Genetic conditions: Sometimes learning disability is caused by abnormal genes inherited from parents, errors when genes combine, or other reasons. Examples of genetic conditions are Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and phenylketonuria (PKU).
  • Problems during pregnancy: Learning disability can result when the baby does not develop inside the mother properly. For example, there may be a problem with the way the baby's cells divide as it grows. A woman who drinks alcohol or gets an infection like rubella during pregnancy may also have a baby with learning disability.
  • Problems at birth: If a baby has problems during labor and birth, such as not getting enough oxygen, he or she may have learning disability.
  • Health problems: Diseases like whooping cough, the measles, or meningitis can cause learning disability. It can also be caused by extreme malnutrition (not eating right), not getting enough medical care, or by being exposed to poisons like lead or mercury.
Learning disability is not a disease. You can't catch learning disability from anyone. It is also not a type of mental illness, like depression. There is no cure for learning disability. However, most children with learning disability can learn to do many things. It just takes them more time and effort than other children.

How is Learning Disability Diagnosed?
Learning Disability is diagnosed by looking at two main things. These are:
  • the ability of a person's brain to learn, think, solve problems, and make sense of the world (called IQ or intellectual functioning); and
  • whether the person has the skills he or she needs to live independently (called adaptive behavior, or adaptive functioning).
Intellectual functioning, or IQ, is usually measured by a test called an IQ test. The average score is 100. People scoring below 70 to 75 are thought to have learning disability. To measure adaptive behavior, professionals look at what a child can do in comparison to other children of his or her age. Certain skills are important to adaptive behavior. These are:
  • daily living skills, such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, and feeding one's self;
  • communication skills, such as understanding what is said and being able to answer;
  • social skills with peers, family members, adults, and others.
To diagnose learning disability, professionals look at the person's mental abilities (IQ) and his or her adaptive skills. Providing services to help individuals with learning disability has led to a new understanding of how we define learning disability. After the initial diagnosis of learning disability is made, we look at a person's strengths and weaknesses. We also look at how much support or help the person needs to get along at home, in school, and in the community. This approach gives a realistic picture of each individual. It also recognizes that the "picture" can change. As the person grows and learns, his or her ability to get along in the world grows as well.

What Are the Signs of Learning Disability?
There are many signs of learning disability. For example, children with learning disability may:
  • sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children;
  • learn to talk later, or have trouble speaking,
  • find it hard to remember things,
  • do not know how to pay for things,
  • have trouble understanding social rules,
  • have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions,
  • have trouble solving problems, and/or
  • have trouble thinking logically.
About 87% of people with learning disability will only be a little slower than average in learning new information and skills. When they are children, their limitations may not be obvious. They may not even be diagnosed as having learning disability until they get to school. As they become adults, many people with mild disability can live independently. Other people may not even consider them as having learning disability.
The remaining 13% of people with learning disability score below 50 on IQ tests. These people will have more difficulty in school, at home, and in the community. A person with more learning disability will need more intensive support in his or her entire life. Every child with learning disability is able to learn, develop, and grow. With help, all children with learning disability can lead a fulfilling life.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Love is FOUND!

by Who?

YIREH.LOVE FOUNDATION is found by a group of people in their mid-30s, despite of busy life chasing money, have decided to do something to the society. It's driven by Love to help the "SLOW LEARNER". 

I proudly present to you our dedicated committee members:
President – Wong Ming Chang
Vice President – Loke Hong Peng
Secretary – How Chin Yet
Assistant Secretary – Lau Thim Khoon
Treasurer – Chan Shi Yun
Tow (2) Ordinary Committee Members – Kuan Mun Ni, Tan Enn Leong

The Objective, Mission and Vision

Formed in the light of children and teenagers who are in need of special attention and care but are unable to be admitted into ordinary institution, our intention is to pursue various and probable means for them to be accepted as part of the society and not ostracized. We intend to achieve this through the following efforts:

  • To provide support for these children and their parents in terms of information, advice and counselling
  • To educate, train and improve the quality of life of these children and their ability to live
  • To prepare these children for a vocation, the ability to earn a living and to enable them to be independent
  • To collaborate with various institutions, agencies, societies, commercial organisations and other establishments to set a platform for these special children;
  • To promote awareness and involvement of the general public and of their parents in particular, of the pertinent way to care for these special chidren and teenagers for them to be accepted by society.

The Logo