Because of his learning disability, your child may feel frustration with school failure and anxiety. His feelings can be further affected if he has experienced teasing from bullies or insensitivity from a teacher.
Fortunately, there are strategies that can help reduce the negative effects of these experiences and help your child develop a healthy sense of self-esteem.
1. Teach Your Child About His Disability - Knowledge Supports Self-Esteem
If your child knows nothing about his disability, he can only form his own conclusions. Too often, those conclusions could be negative. Teach him the facts about his learning disability. He should know:
- LDs are not caused by low intelligence.
- His intelligence is comparable to or better than other kids his age;
- His learning differences result from the way his brain processes information;
- His mind may require more time or a variety of tools or learning methods to master a concept; and
- Learning disabled students can and do learn at high levels, and have become successful in life.
Your child should know:
- Assessments help teachers understand his thinking processes and learning preferences;
- The tests used in his assessment are designed for children of all ages. Some items will be easy for him. Others will be harder. Some will be above his age and grade level, so he should not worry when he items begin to be tough. It is simply time to move to another test;
- His examiner cannot tell him if his answers are right or wrong, so he should not expect that kind of feedback; and
- He should be given the opportunity to share his thoughts about school and his own learning with the examiner.
3. Build Self-Esteem by Listening to and Valuing Your Child's Opinions
If your child is too young or prefers not to meet with the team, get his input in other ways. You, his teacher, and the examiner should speak with him, in a conversational and age-appropriate way, about school. Some open-ended conversation starters include:
- Tell me about your best activity in school;
- Talk about your favorite classwork and what you enjoy most; and
- Tell me about what helps you most when work is hard.
4. Encourage Teachers to "Set Up" Your Child for Self-Esteem Success
Create situations where your child will be successful:
- Have teachers offer assessment alternatives that minimize the effect of LDs on performance. Multiple choice, oral report, poster projects, a created art project with embedded concepts, one-on-one testing in a discussion format, group project, partially assisted testing, use of a reader, use of a scribe, and extended time;
- In whole class question and answer, give him the question first, and then allow him time to find the answer before calling on him for it; and
- Avoid using public checks for understanding that place his disability in the spotlight.