All kids are special in their own way and have their own strengths and weaknesses. If a child is not performing well academically, then, instead of scolding the child and not supporting him/her, it is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to understand what difficulty the child is facing and then takes measures to help them overcome it. Generally, the low academic performers are of two types, one is slow learners and the other kids with learning difficulties.
The two words ‘slow learners’ and ‘kids with learning difficulties’ are often interchangeably used which is wrong. It is very important to understand the difference between the two types and know how to treat each type.
Understanding slow learners
- The average IQ of a child should be between 85 to 110. So, if a child’s IQ is less than 85, then he/she is regarded as a slow learner. This means that there is a general slowness in the system. On an IQ continuum, some of these kids are educable, some are trainable and some are less intelligent.
- A child with low intelligence does not behave or study age-appropriate, and so we cannot work on their intelligence, but there are other creative ways to work on improving them. One of the ways is engaging these kids with dance and music therapies as it makes them feel good and they try to perform at their level and capacity. They can be involved in more skill-based jobs, for example, girls can go to beauty cultural therapist and boys can go to the bakery.
Understanding kids with learning difficulties
- Kids with learning difficulties have an IQ above 85 and are actually very intelligent. Their IQ is in the place but are not performing well academically. Kids with learning difficulties are actually intelligent but yet do not perform well in areas like reading, writing, spelling, maths, etc. Even kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder are also very intelligent, they learn very fast but each type is a unique combination and they have their own weakness and strengths.
- These kids consistently keep failing in various subjects in class. The issue is, their difficulties are not being addressed by parents and teachers. Here, psychometric assessments play a big role. There are various types of assessments example verbal and non-verbal combinations, assessments that identify the reading, writing, spelling and then understand where the difficulty is.
Dr. Alka Kalra, the renowned educational psychologist, and director of Eduscan Group believes that kids do not have learning disabilities, but they have different learning abilities or learning difficulties. If we call it a disability, then we won’t ever be able to find a cure for it. Whereas, if we call it difficulty, we will be determined to look for a solution to overcome it. The various measures mentioned above are performed at Eduscan in their Institute of determination. They work towards pinpointing the factor that is causing learning difficulties in kids and then works towards helping the child to overcome them. They have helped various such kids who are now performing well academically and are in fact working at manager level posts. They believe that it is very important to know your child better and identify their difficulties and support them because early intervention makes a big difference!
The word dyslexia is made up of two parts, ‘DYS’ means ‘not’ or ‘difficult’ and the other part ‘LEXIA’ means language, words or reading. So, in its real sense, dyslexia means difficulty with words. It is regarded as a specific learning difficulty with reading which affects spelling as well. The kids with dyslexia have difficulty with reading, compression, and math. According to Dr Alka Kalra, a renowned educational psychologist, and director of Eduscan Group, dyslexia is not a learning disability but it is a ‘differently learning ability’.
Children with dyslexia are actually very smart, creative, innovative and extremely imaginative. Since they have a different learning ability, they need to be taught the way they learn. They are picture thinkers and they learn by looking at pictures. There are various systems and methods that help people to cope with this difficulty.
If you are born dyslexia your brain remains dyslexic but then there is a method which can bring both kids and adults to come to dyslexia. Dr Alka believes that dyslexia can be corrected for a lifetime if proper learning systems and methods are followed. She runs a training program at Eduscan which is for the duration of 35 hours which is based on the Ron Davis dyslexia correction method. Here they work on the following:
1. How to fix the energy levels of kids: For dyslexic children with ADHD (Attention deficit/ hyperactive disorder), it is important to manage their energy levels.
2. How to focus and concentrate: Here, the focus of kids is improved by using a kush ball method.
3. How to read correctly: Clay is given to children and they are taught how to make three-dimensional letters. With these letters, they start to work on correcting their spellings and eventually start to read.
It is extremely important that the teachers are educated about these methods of learning. They are the first ones to identify these difficulties in kids. If we are trying to teach kids in Latin, but they are able to learn only in Greek, then the teachers should be the ones to identify such difficulties in kids. Also, parents who are not closely involved with the learning and development of their children won’t even know that their child is going through this difficulty. Therefore, early intervention in your child’s learning abilities is important and makes a lot of difference!
About Dr. Alka Kalra
Dr. Alka is a community development authority (Dubai) certified psychologist and a professional counselor. She believes that each child has unique skills and strengths and is particularly passionate about children with learning difficulties. Through assessments (personality, aptitude and intelligence) and tailor made courses at Eduscan, not just for children but also teachers and parents, she has positively touched the lives of numerous children.
She regularly shares her views on parenting and child rearing practices on TV, radio and on Eduscan’s social media. She has been appreciated and awarded various titles including,
- Top Indian Achiever Super 100
- “Woman of the year” by International Women Association
- “Lady of the year” by Indian Ladies association
- “Lioness of the year” by Lions Club International
- All India Best Cadet ‘Gold Medal’ by Prime Minister of India Late Indira Gandhi