Jan
12
2013

How to Encourage a Struggling Learner

Guest Post By: David Morgan

 

Learning to read can be one of life’s
most stressful events for a child. For some children, picking up phonics and
spelling seems like second nature. For others, the reading process sparks
long-lasting low confidence and a chronic distaste for schoolwork. Parents
often find it difficult to know how to build up self-confidence in a child
while also correcting their mistakes. Pairing praise and criticism is not an
easy job, so we have a special rule that helps to keep the two in balance.

 

“The Rule of 5” says that as a parent
you must say five encouraging remarks to your child before you can say
something negative.

 

But I can’t let my child get away with
reading a word wrong, can I? You might ask this question – and it’s a good one!
Our children do need a lot of correction as they grow. But the problem is that
even the most well-meaning correction will always come across to a child as a
harsh criticism. Even children with high confidence tend to take correction
badly. We’ve found that once you practice a praise-first policy, children
become more open to hearing instruction.

 

We’ve called this idea The Rule of 5 in
order to make the model more tangible. You might want to pledge to a Rule of 3
or a Rule of 7, depending on your child. The idea is that once you have a
numerical target to reach, it is easier to measure your success. We always
perform better to specific challenges than general ones.

 

Especially if your child struggles with
school and has fragile self-esteem, The Rule of 5 not only increases confidence
but also will usually improve academic performance. Stress can be a main cause of reading difficulty, because your body responds to
stress by shutting down the learning centers in the brain. This is a part of
the “fight or flight” response. The body focuses all of its energy on
responding to the threat, at the expense of non-essential functioning like digestion
and learning. So once some of that school-related stress has been alleviated,
the brain is much better prepared for the learning environment.

 

If The Rule of Five is a new concept, give it
a try over the course of one week. I am sure that you
will love the outcome!

David Morgan is CEO of Oxford Learning Solutions,
publisher of the Easyread System. Easyread is an online course that helps
children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and highly visual
learning styles improve their reading and spelling through short daily lessons.
Find out more at
 www.easyreadsystem.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/easyreadsystem

 

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1 Comment + Add Comment

  • Sometimes I wonder though. I deal with children on an individual basis. I had this one child tough as nails, all she needed was a person outside the classroom to seem to care. Another child just needed to join the chess club to change attitude. Another needed a tough attitude. I guess what I mean is we have to find what works and use that.

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