JSM Aug 2019: Overcoming Learning Challenges

On 29 August 2019, about 40 mothers got together from 7.20am to 8.30am at the Thinkubator to learn how to help their children overcome learning challenges, difficulties in learning, and homework demands.

Mrs Serena Koh is an ex-teacher with more than 10 years in the education field, who became a stay-home mum to her 3 teenagers. She has a degree in Special Education and is currently a private Special Education tutor providing Education Therapy and Intervention to children with learning differences.

Serena shared openly about the challenges and difficulties her 3 children faced, particularly in relation to learning and homework demands.

Despite each child having different learning styles, she drew out clear strategies to support their learning needs and to help them develop life skills such as time management, and how to boost their weaker executive functioning skills.

1. Routine and timetableBy setting a routine and timetable, the child will not need to figure out the routine. They are expected to complete their homework before playing. There is no need to indicate the specific time for each homework, but each task has to be completed before moving on to the next task. If each homework is time specific, it might lead to anxiety of not being able to complete the work, and not having time to be able to play. The child will feel stressed and demotivated to complete their homework. Only dinner and bedtime will need to have fixed timing.

If play is permitted before or in-between work, it will be a challenge to shift the “gear” back to work. Instead, allow the child to have a 1 minute break of jumping jacks or a bit of movement then back on the task. As play is a very strong motivator, keep it to the end of work.

2. Clear expectationsOnce clear expectations are set, the child will not “test water”, but will know what can or cannot be done. When parents check school work,
– check that it must be completed (every page, every question, neat handwriting)
– do not need to check for right answer, or the teacher might have a wrong impression that the child knows his work. With mistakes, the teacher will be able to work on the problem with the class.
– homework must be done to the best of the child’s ability
– no random answers are allowed.

3. Understanding their challenges

Some children might have
– Dyslexia
– Language Processing Disorder
– Auditory Processing Disorder
– Slow Processing Disorder
We have to be sensitive to their needs and be creative in teaching. Play is a powerful tool to learn. Serena challenged the mothers in a dictation test to help them understand some of the struggles a Dyslexic child might face.

3. Accommodate their needs

Provide a suitable environment for your child to work on away from distractions. Be sensitive of their needs for movement. If necessary, they can be seated on yoga ball to do work as long as they can function and complete their work to the best of their ability.

Before starting work, activate their schema to bring awareness to the topic before starting homework on topic. This helps to bring the information nearer to where it is more easily accessible.


4. Encourage, Affirm, Appreciate EffortsMost importantly, reward them for effort and not the results. This will help to build self-confidence and self-esteem. Focus on building good work habit, as this is a life-skill to cultivate.

All mothers received practical tips and strategies to help their child and they look forward to the next talk next month.