Encouraging New Interests in Children with Learning Disabilities
By Susan Good
One in five children in the US has a learning disability, which can make it difficult to adapt to a classroom and have the same success rate as their peers. As it turns out, encouraging these kids to explore new interests can be a great way to help them succeed personally and academically. Fostering creativity and learning helps kids with self-esteem while developing their levels of social and emotional intelligence through free expression. Finding new interests can also help improve gross motor, reading, and problem-solving skills.
Create an Inclusive and Relaxing Learning Environment
No matter what type of activity a child participates in, make sure you set up an area where he or she can freely work and practice. Incorporate all of the necessary supplies and tools needed and choose surfaces that are easy to clean. Create an area that is relaxing and inspiring to help with concentration levels; decluttering, good lighting, and a few indoor plants can make a tremendous difference in how children feel in their space. You might even include children in the task of decluttering; by making a game of it, they feel more inclined to participate. And, having undertaken decluttering, they are often more motivated to keep it tidy.
Level Up Your Own Education
There is a tremendous amount one can do to help children with learning disabilities. Those who are passionate about making a difference in these young lives can often benefit from advancing their own education. You can earn a master's in special education online through flexible and inexpensive courses. Make sure that the program you choose is accredited and offers licensure in your state.
Early literacy is key to a child’s success, both now and into the future. Instruction on reading comprehension for children with a learning disability plays a huge role in fostering an interest in reading, per Readability. They go on to explain, “Once your child has mastered reading comprehension, they make the switch from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’”
Go for a Walk
Green space is often cited as stress-relieving and helpful to immunity, but it seems getting children into green space can also be a boon to their ability to learn. In fact, some studies indicate that spending time in nature helps children retain information to solve problems. Ultimately, this can help to advance mathematical ability. Children living in parklike, walkable areas scored higher in standardized tests, too. So, if your classroom is in a location where you can take children for walks, consider incorporating the activity into your lesson plans.
Playing An Instrument
ADDitude notes that researchers have found music can strengthen the same neural processes that are lacking in children with a learning disability. Playing an instrument also aids reading and vocabulary skills, including decoding, word knowledge, and reading comprehension. Explore these resources to learn more:
- Benefits of Children Learning a Musical Instrument
- 7 Ways to Get Kids Interested in Playing an Instrument
- How to Set Up and Decorate a Music Practice Room
- Explore Adapted Musical Instruments
Arts And Crafts
Good old-fashioned arts and crafts help kids with a learning disability develop bilateral and fine motor coordination, self-regulation, and self-esteem. Give your child the opportunity to choose what project to work on but limit the number of materials they work with, so they don't become overwhelmed and discouraged. Here are a few ideas and resources:
- 100+ Easy Craft Ideas for Kids
- What Can Kids Make With Clay? 5 Clay Ideas for Children
- How to Create an Organized Craft Space for Kids
Working with children with learning disabilities is a special calling. If you’re passionate about helping kids reach their full potential, consider advancing your knowledge through a degree program. Look into activities that help children learn, like walking and playing music, and set up a space that allows them to relax and focus. With the right strategies, both you and the child will be set up for success.
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