Help for Your Struggling Child

Updated: Nov 1

The importance of reading starts at home. You know it, but what if you tried that and it didn't work? Your child pushes back when it is their time to read, struggles, and becomes agitated when "reading" comes up. You find that the sweet moments when they snuggled next to you and anticipated story time is a distant memory, and reading to them is easier than requiring them to do any of the reading, because tears are heartbreaking, not heart-warming. Well, you're not alone.

Many parents are faced with this challenge and turn to their child's teacher for help. When the teacher looks back at you for further guidance, it's time to come up with a game plan. The truth is, many students face challenges when learning to read and write. Research shows that 1 in 5 students are dyslexic. Think about that: 1 in 5. Let that sink in and then do the math. The odds are high that in every classroom across the country 4-5 students on average are sitting in the classroom, struggling all day long. It's a major concern when the educational system is not set up to properly evaluate and educate these children in the explicit way they need.

Now let's say your child doesn't struggle in reading and writing, but rather in math. We've all heard of the word dyslexia, but what about dyscalculia? This is when a child struggles with the abstract meaning behind mathematical symbols (individual digits and signs), quantities, number ranges, number order, basic arithmetic skills, and multiplication. Instead of letters, numbers are the underlying difficulty of understanding. Dyscalculia has the same origin as dyslexia.

The book, Dyslexia -Dyscalculia?, by Dr. Astrid Kopp-Duller and Dr. Livia R. Pailer-Duller dives into this little known world and helps clarify misconceptions, with the added bonus of help. This mother-daughter, doctors-in-education team not only explain what it means to be dyslexic and dyscalculic, but give examples for the reader to better understand and support the child from home and at school. For parents they recommend:

  1. If you suspect a problem, please do not wait. Do not trivialize the indications, take quick initiative and start assistance early (latter half of first grade).

  2. Entrust your child to a qualified individual using a pedagogical test procedure to identify existing dyslexia/dyscalculia problem areas (AFS-Test-not intelligence test)

  3. Begin targeted assistance on a timely basis

  4. Student, teacher, parents, and specialists outside of school need to work together in a combined effort to achieve results

  5. There is no patent remedy

  6. "Remedial Education" classes in the school are usually not productive in assisting with dyslexia/dyscalculia.

  7. Every person has their own distinct dyslexia or dyscalculia and individualized assistance by a dyslexia/dyscalculia specialist with special training is needed.

  8. For dyscalculia- use "Mathe4Matic" an educational card game at home (www.mathe4matic.com)

  9. With timely assistance, secondary problems (such as psychosomatic illnesses) are not likely to appear.

  10. Patience and understanding, praise and recognition work wonders

For teachers some tips they include:

  1. Student sits close to the teacher and face the board, not sideways

  2. Use tactile and three dimensional objects for letters and numbers-everything they can touch, they can understand

  3. With written work- use boldly printed writings: clean, clear, less text, and more graphics

  4. Include the use of computers

  5. Allow for extended time for school activities

  6. More time is needed to complete homework assignments

  7. It is difficult to keep their attention more than 20-25 minutes on one thing

  8. Judge on contents of written work or oral achievements rather than written mistakes

  9. Assign an entire word family to be learned (spelling)

  10. Give positive feedback

What I love about this book, is how Dr. Kopp-Duller and Dr. Pailer-Duller do not sugar-coat the problem, but give the facts as they truly are by using research based evidence. Kopp-Duller is the creator of the groundbreaking AFS-Test (Attention, Function, and Symptoms) and AFS-Method (Attention, Function, and Symptom training), a milestone of pedagogical-didactical research in international academic circles. They even go so far as to describe specialized computer programs that have been designed to sharpen the skills of dyslexic and dyscalculic children (Easy Training Program and Easy Reading Program) and where to find them: American Dyslexia Association's website offers free worksheets and training aids (www.american-dyslexia-association.com).

If your child is struggling in reading, writing, and math, I highly recommend reading this book to help point you in the right direction for further support. It's a ray of sunshine in what can be a very cloudy turbulent world. Real help is available. Let's get the smile back into story time!