How to help a child struggling in school

How to Help Child Struggling at School

When students are falling behind in their regular class work and/or are in need of extra help, often assessments are needed to further understand the child. It is important to pin point how to help child struggling at school. By finding out their needs, strengths and weaknesses, so that they can achieve their true potential. Adaptations of instruction may be necessary for accommodating the learner’s abilities, styles, and deficits.

How to help a child struggling in school

How to Help Child Struggling at School: Pin Point the Problem

1. The first step that should be taken after suspicions that the student needs help is vision and hearing tests. These tests can often help the student and rule out further investigations.

2. If these tests find nothing, then the next step is to do a learning disabilities evaluation. There are a wide variety of tests that can be used, the most common being “discrepancy model.” It is given and funded by the school district and can be provided at any time due to parental request. The “discrepancy model” includes a psychological test given by a licensed psychologist, normally an IQ test, and an educational test given by a school psychologist or trained professional, normally an academic achievements test. If there is an inconsistency in the results of the two tests, usually if the student tests well on the IQ and poor on the academic portion, they may have a learning disability.

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late talkers

Late Talkers: From Speech Delays to Spoken Language Success

If you notice your child might be considered in the group of late talkers, here are some ways to bridge the gap from speech delays to success with spoken language. The following how-to guide provides some helpful insight in teaching language principles to those who might be considered late talkers. Although speech delays can vary, these ideas are to help all children with spoken language.

late talkers

Spoken Language for Late Talkers

Spoken language is often first found as a delay in toddlers. A parent may notice that their child is not using the same number of words as their peers and perhaps cannot produce many of the same sounds. Often the parent may seek advice from their pediatrician and then be referred to the appropriate services. Often for 0 to 3 year old, these are referred to as Early Intervention Services, but it varies from state to state. If the child is older, these services can be provided through their local school district. The child then goes through an evaluation process with multidisciplinary professionals. This is often when delays are identified and appropriate services, such as Speech-Language therapy, preschool, and Early Intervention, are deemed appropriate.

For children with speech delays, there is often much hope at this point that the intervention will help to resolve any learning disabilities that the child may have later on.

Teaching Techniques for Late Talkers

The teaching techniques include, but are not limited to:

  • Teach in the child’s natural environment where the same principles can be applied daily, so that the child can have more time to learn skills
  • Teach at the child’s developmental level and not the age level, so that the child can get individualized instruction that is appropriate for them
  • Constantly engage the child in verbal communication where output is rewarded, so that the child gets used to hearing their voice and knows that sound is socially appropriate
  • Play helps keep the child engaged and learning social rules, like turn taking
  • Feeding and swallowing techniques, or oral motor stimulation, may be used to promote the child’s oral awareness and functioning. For example, the child may have low oral motor strength/ tone and therefore not be able to produce appropriate sounds.

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word recognition

Word Recognition: A Guide to Help Children Read

The following is a curriculum guide for teaching word recognition. It can be used by both parents and professionals to help children who are struggling to learn to read find success.

word recognition

As children with language delays, or other disabilities, approach reading, they often find similar difficulties in achieving success. There are a variety of researched methods for teaching children written language one of which is word recognition. One teacher stated “Students with reading-related learning disabilities must have intensive instruction in word recognition to develop into successful readers” (Wanzek & Haager, pp.32, 2003). Word recognition is a process teachers use to help their students become successful with reading.

The Process of Word Recognition

Just like in other areas of academics, students should be taught to their developmental level and not just to their age appropriate level. Word recognition skills are taught on a continuum, where readers work on achieving skills in the process of:

1. Letter-Sound Knowledge

2. Letter-Sound Blending

3. Onset-Rime/Word-Family Instruction

Key Factors in Word Recognition

While teaching word recognition, here are some important factors for teachers to remember:

  • 84% of words in the English language have regular, consistent spelling patterns and only 3% are considered highly irregular
  • Help students attack words piece by piece, so they are not overwhelmed by the word or phrase in front of them
  • It is best to guide and model reading for students than to tell them because the student is often already stressed by the task in front of them, so keeping the environment as friendly as possible helps things run smoother
  • Do not let the student struggle too long or they will give up on the task at hand
  • Ask the student if the word makes sense in the sentence the way they pronounced it. This helps the student’s awareness and practical thinking
  • Use pictures to help relate what the text is trying to say, for example a picture can help the student to realize the noun is ‘bee’ instead of ‘bed’
  • Children can read the letter chunks they are familiar with like “at” and the teacher can help blend in other sounds to make new words “cat,” “bat,” “rat”
  • Help the child break down larger words into shorter syllable patterns. This can help to simplify text
  • Ask the child if they know a word that looks like the new word. This can promote self-help skills when new unfamiliar words come up

The tools listed above for both verbal skills and word recognition can be used as part of an on-going process to promote successful, competent students that become successful, independent adults.


Learning Pages. Word Recognition.

Wanzek, Jeanne and Diane Haager. (2003). Teaching Word Recognition with Blending and Analogizing.


Stuttering and How the Brain Functions

Stuttering is something that affects roughly 5% of children and usual roots itself from about 2-4 years of age. It tends to be a genetic trait that according to new research found in Cortex affects more than just speech. Speech is the most predominate part, however, so it’s what others notice.

Stuttering often starts with the consonants K, G, and T be repeated and may lead to other sounds. Less than 1% of children continue to experience stuttering into adulthood. It is often worsen when stressed by other factors such as crowds. The individual may suffer other facial twitches as well.


The newer research suggests how stuttering emerges from a brain structuring way, so if you think this problem might be effecting your child talk to your doctor right away. As with most developmental things, the sooner the diagnosis the better the outcome.

According to lead author Martin Sommer, a neuroscientist at the University of Göttingen in Germany,the results suggest that the left-hemisphere defect underlying a stutter causes trouble with sensory integra­tion in general, rather than specifically speech-related problems as was his­torically thought. “Like in stroke pa­tients, the right side seems to jump in and compensate,” Sommer ex­plains. But that part of the brain did not evolve to handle those tasks, so problems—such as a stutter—can emerge.            – Scientific American


A speech Pathologist can diagnosis and treat the symptoms.


Learning Disabilities and Learning Environments

There are many expectations of the role of parents and family in the education of a child with Learning Disabilities, LD. There are also expectations of the role of teacher in relationship with parents and family. Both educators and parents share their experiences with the child with Learning Disabilities. They both have their own understanding of Learning Disabilities and their own hopes and dreams for the child. As both a special education teacher and a parent, it is important to think about the environment most conducive to the learning of this child with Learning Disabilities and how he/she is influenced by their surroundings. How to create the most beneficial environment for learning when a child has learning disabilities is an important key to finding success.

As with any child, they have both strengths and weaknesses. The parent needs to by aware of the fact that Learning Disabilities are not anything they or the environment has done to their child. It is a part of their individual genetic makeup. The biggest factor is to consider the specific academic learning disabilities the child might have, ex. math, reading. Parents need to be an active participating partner in their child’s education. The teacher would have close communication with the parent so her efforts and teaching can be reinforced at home. Making the importance not in the cosmetic make up of a class or home but in the ongoing dialogue between all those working with the child.


Each parents understanding of a child with Learning Disabilities varies. They know that their child has difficulties and most try to compensate for their difficulties. For instance, if their child has difficulty reading, they might read for them in certain situations. If their child does not talk, they might let their child point to get what they want. These parents have similar expectations for their child. They want their child to do the best they can. They constantly encourage them to not give up when things are difficult. They want them to be able to read and write at least minimally so they can fill out a job application, get a drivers license, and a job.

Children with Learning Disabilities know they are different by the time they get to middle school. They know that school is harder for them, and they have learned to deal with it. By this time, they have learned their own strategies as to succeed in the classroom. They work harder, and they have found what defense mechanisms work best for them.

A multi-sensory environment can be the most conducive learning environment for any age child with Learning Disabilities. Different learning styles are taught and accepted in these environments. An LD child learns best in small groups with specific individual help. Extra help is needed, so smaller groups help provide the support necessary for success.