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For LD Students, Concentrate On One Big Thing at a Time

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When children struggle in school, they are often having difficulty with many things. They may have poor ability to focus their attention, low reading and spelling skills, working memory issues, or problems with executive functioning.

They may have problems putting things in order, writing legibly, or have problems with vocabulary.

As parents, we want to see them get help in all these areas at once. We want to “fix” them right away. Unfortunately, these difficulties are complicated and require a lot of time before a child improves.

I have worked with many, many struggling children in my years in the classroom. I have found that it is best to take each issue and work on it individually.

I recommend that you identify the number one issue that is keeping your child from being successful and concentrate on that.

In the meantime, parents and teachers need to make accommodations for the other problems. For example, if you, your child, and your child’s teachers agree that attention is her greatest issue, then focus your efforts on figuring out how to help her with attention. This might include having her evaluated for an attention deficit disorder and even considering medication to help.

It might include teaching your child strategies to deal with her attention problems.

In the meantime, work with your child’s teacher to figure out ways to accommodate for the other problems until attention is under better control. At that point, select another issue upon which to focus.

Trying to fix everything at once can lead to a sense of frustration or, in the worst case, feeling hopeless.

Encourage your child and help him see what he is good at doing. As I have said many times before, these issues are often more of a problem while in school, and school won’t last forever! At that point, he can concentrate on his gifts and strengths.

Editor’s note: SchoolFamily.com blogger Livia McCoy has written in-depth blog posts about many of the issues she mentions in this post. If you’ve missed any and would like to read more on specific topics, here they are, by title:


Creating a Friendly Environment for ADHD Children


When a Child Struggles to Read: What a Parent Needs to Know


Can “Working Memory” Problems Cause Difficulty in School?


Executive Functioning—How it Affects a Student in School


What Does It Mean To Have A "Sequencing" Problem?


Does My Child Have Dysgraphia?


How to Help Your Child Improve His or Her Vocabulary


 SchoolFamily.com Glossary: "accommodation"


ADHD and Medication: Should You Consider It for Your Child?


SchoolFamily.com’s Building Attention Span Article Archive



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