by Donna Jones
Why does Brian understand what you are teaching him one day but then a few days later he cannot remember a thing? Why does Cathy understand her math facts one week but does not know them a few weeks later? Why is your child’s handwriting almost non legible? Does your 5th or 6th grader still struggle to ask questions out loud in a group setting? Have difficulty concentrating, spelling, reading, or remembering what he read? Does your sweet child have difficulties making and keeping friends? Does she interrupt, have trouble socializing, and sometimes miss out on body language or facial cues of those who are listening to her? Is your child unsure of themselves, or even believe that they are “stupid” and “can’t learn anything.” Has your child been bullied, picked on, and called a “baby” because they can’t read or keep up academically with their same age peers? Does your child “hate school?” You are not alone!
Parents, grandparents, great-aunts and friends know that they have a loved one, a sweet boy or girl that has one or many of the above-mentioned dynamics playing out in their lives. Oftentimes nobody knows what to do to help. Unfortunately, years of struggles can go by without any real and lasting changes. These kids need help to get in touch with their natural desire to be curious and learn!! Yes!! We are all born with a natural curiosity to learn! It is not about “developing a love of learning” but rather, to help these children to dig deep inside and pull out that God given natural bent to learn things and explore their world.
Watch any preschooler as they walk into an area with “new” toys, sights, and sounds. They are instantly drawn towards these new things! They want to pick them up and observe them and figure out what they can do with them. It is their God given natural curiosity about their surroundings. A 5 year old will dance with joy as she enjoys fun upbeat music! They will open box lids; they will look under a cover or behind a screen. We all started out that way!
Children even enjoy learning the sounds of the alphabet! And learning the names of objects in books! Until someone “tests” them and creates a performance driven event of which the child cannot answer correctly. As soon as they cannot read the word ‘CAT’, they realize that they disappointed someone. This lack of being able to decode letters gets labeled as ‘a problem’ and now adults start to ask more and more of the child. Not being able to read, they eventually become aware that they are not learning and understanding like everyone else. So, they start to sense that there is a problem, that they have a problem. In a negative environment, these kids get called “baby” and “stupid” and maybe “lazy.” And now everyone is telling this child that he is not living up to his potential! That he is not paying attention, or trying hard enough! It is impossible to read if you cannot decode the letters! This sets up a vicious cycle of hiding. The student now is going to “guess” the answers by looking at the pictures. This can go on for Kindergarten, First grade, the repeat of First grade, Second grade and Third grade.
Usually by the age of 9 or 3rd grade, the “learning glitch” is obvious to everyone. How does a kid feel when he finds himself not able to produce and perform at the level of most everyone else in his class? What if he has siblings that have no learning glitches? Low self-esteem looks like “my kid is lazy.” Headaches, stomachaches, and anger can be symptoms of a kid suffering from a learning glitch.
What would happen if you could take this same 10 year old kid out of the negative environment that is suffocating him? What if there was a place for my sweet child to make friends, to be accepted, to be loved, to be mentored, and to be given praise for what he DOES know instead of beaten down for what he DOESN’T know?
The truth is that it might take several months of un-doing the damage that has been done. At no fault of our own, we might have contributed to our child’s low self-esteem, self-doubt, and loathing of ALL things having to do with “school and learning!” As parents, we want the best for our children. As parents, we sometimes get frustrated and feel helpless, ending up in increased stress for the family.
God’s word says we are wonderfully and fearfully made. That He formed us even before the beginning of time. That we are made in His image, and that we are His children. His word says that He knows the plans He has made for us and those are plans to prosper us. God’s ways are perfect. The above-mentioned 10 year old needs to be reunited with God’s love for him, God’s care of him, God’s plans for him, and God’s creation, including him and his brain and his very life! He needs to hear that he is worthy of “being taken care of” whether his brain does not know how to decode letters, whether his eyes need glasses, whether he has diabetes or whether he needs a wheelchair to get around. We are designed by God, we have the hair color, the eye color, the parents, the brain and the number of toes we have because God in His sovereignty designed us that way. We are to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding; to seek God’s wisdom in all areas of our life. As parents, we want to take care of our child’s needs. Sometimes we don’t know how and we need to ask for help.
Does anything in this paper “ring a bell” or sound familiar? We love these kids! We love to help students that have been in a downward spiral of self-esteem and low academic performance. When given the right attention, the time to form a bond with classmates, in an accepting atmosphere, under the care and love of an adult educator, these sweet children return to their true selves! They relearn that they are valuable just the way they are! They discover that they can learn, that they can remember, that they are lovable and likeable and that they have great ideas to share with others! They get in touch with their natural born curiosity and desire to learn new things. They learn about grace, and patience and mercy. They learn to accept their own flaws and forgive the flaws in others. Kids with social anxiety, kids with awkward social skills, kids who need to “belong” will be welcome and loved in our safe, close-knit community. We have others that are just like your child. We have a class just for these type kiddos in these type situations.
You are not alone and we are here for you. Blessings!