We've heard the old adage about making assumptions. You know, what it makes of you and me? Well if you don't know what I'm talking about ask a friend. Unfortunately, school systems make many assumptions about children and learning that are detrimental to your child's success and may cause much frustration and confusion for you as a parent.
Assumption #1: Children come to school prepared with most, if not all learning abilities in place.
Reality: Schools do not pre-test for these abilities. They just assume that they are developed. This assumption is the "germ seed" of the learning disabled.
Assumption #2: When schools adopt a reading series they assume that their chosen series is right for all students.
Reality: They are aided in this assumption by the publisher of the reading series (usually a sales person) but it is an inappropriate assumption. Reading is a man made skill and the human brain is not yet hard-wired for this process. Therefore not all children learn to read the same way or at the same rate.
Assumption #3: Monday through Thursday many schools present material to students for them to learn. Then on Fridays they test their comprehension and retention of the curricula material.
Reality: We teach comprehension but test memory. It is implicitly assumed that if Johnny was studying, actively participating and paying attention in class that he would be able to recall the information at a later date. This is an assumption almost always made and often not warranted. Bright children who do not perform well are enigmas to teachers. It is assumed by schools despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that their memory is perfect and if not that it cannot be improved. Both of these are error thinking. Johnny's good thinking and intellectual abilities do not mean or imply that he has a good memory. Memory however, is one of the most critical skills and easiest skills to train with as little as 15 minutes a day. If this were realized as factual, Johnny would not be a puzzle to his teachers. It also explains why some bright children do not perform well on achievement tests.
Assumption #4: Your child is not paying attention---he /she must have ADD and you should look into putting him/her on medication.
Reality: Not so fast please. Apparent inattentiveness is a symptom which can be caused by over 100 different factors and seems to be becoming an over diagnosed dilemma. Processing speed, poor auditory processing, visual inefficiency, medical issues, dietary/ nutritional factors and sensory-integration issues can contribute to symptoms of inattention. This is not necessarily ADD/ADHD. Many solutions are available that don't involve heavy duty drugs which may only mask symptoms, at times ineffectively, while creating other physical, behavioral problems. Seek out the resources that fit you and don't stop until you do.
Assumption #5: Children don't have learning disabilities if they are getting good grades.
Assumption #6: Some children are just unmotivated, lazy, attention seeking trouble maker.
Reality: Both of these assumptions are based on symptoms which unfortunately are most often born of covert, unidentified learning disabilities which can go unrecognized into adulthood! The traditional diagnostic tests done by school are often skewed, not comprehensive enough and not solution oriented.
The worst assumption of all is that if a child is getting good grades he/she is not learning disabled. Children may actually be gifted and have learning disabilities which interfere with their ability to demonstrate their skills and talents. Again, the traditional tests are not comprehensive enough to pinpoint the root causes of learning problems. There are approximately 40 cognitive abilities and perceptual skills that are critical to successful learning in school and applying it in life. Very few of these are measured by standard IQ tests.
The good news is that when the weak intellectual abilities are identified they can be developed and strengthened! This is occurring in hundreds of schools nationwide based on the Guilford/Meeker research that has proven that underdeveloped processing skills create learning difficulties which can be improved. Also, the Center for Learning Enhancement, is the only developmental learning center in the tri state area offering the most current, scientifically proven approaches to developing learning abilities. Best of all, parents finally have answers and solutions.
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