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Demystifying Learning Challenges/ Making a Plan

This entry cannot sufficiently express the topic in the words that follow. A link with resources from an institute called All Kinds of Minds are included at the bottom of this page that go much deeper into this subject. Demystification is a process designed by this organization and its program educators, Schools Attuned.

Children who experience learning challenges are often mystified in wondering why they can't accomplish what other students can do so well.

In its simplest form, demystification means to demystify the reasons behind such difficulties. It is not about labeling a student, such as labeling a child as an attention deficit hyper active student, or a poor reader, for that matter. Rather, it is discovering how, when and why a student may experience a lack of attention or some other challenge, and demystifying it. A child with what is called attention deficit disorder is a child that experiences certain aspects of attention deficit. All children have neurodevelopmental strengths and challenges. People are not their strengths, nor their challenges. They are simply humans with various traits pertaining to their neurodevelopment. These neurodevelopmental areas may include aspects of a student's memory, attention, writing skills, social skills, gross and fine motor skills, et cetera.

Assessing a student's strengths and challenge areas: Assessment does not necessarily mean testing--but rather, observations made by the teacher, other professionals who work with the child, the child's parents and the student himself. Students, by the way, can often give the most valuable assessment of themselves. Believe me when I tell you that children are usually quite aware of their areas of challenges and their areas of strengths. Just ask them. Find out about data collecting material available from an organization called All Kinds of Minds, an institute founded by an expert on children's' learning patterns and strategies, Dr. Mel Levine. I am proud to say that I am a graduate of All Kinds of Minds' Schools Attuned program, an intensive training of this process. The Schools Attuned intensive training is where this material comes alive. It also teaches a number of hands-on strategies for improving upon children's' learning abilities and the way they feel about themselves.

Once an assessment is made, the adult talks straight with the child, discussing the data collected and how it impacts the child's learning areas of strengths and challenges. The adult uses language that helps take the mystery away from the child's confusion about his or her learning problem or problems. This, of course, needs to done with care and compassion. There are steps to follow. I have never met children who are not relieved to find out that there are reasons for their troubled areas of learning. And, they become very happy when their strengths are added into the mix. They are relieved that they are not a labeled child. They are not dumb, or lazy, or a hyper active child.

A plan is then developed by the student and the adults to work on just one or two of the challenged areas, incorporating the areas of strengths. An example: If a child can't remember addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts, or has other sequential and temporal challenges, but has great finger dexterity, then finger-counting may be a strength that can help that child succeed in math. Finger-counting as a math accommodation is a process that I believe I invented. It is based on using American Sign Language counting in a unique way that allows counting math facts. I will present this strategy in the weeks to come.

I have offered the basic idea of this approach concerning working with children to demystify for them what is going on with their learning challenges. It gives their problems a name, not placing the name upon them. Remember, working with and acknowledging a child's strengths is an important component of this approach. Weakness is too harsh of a term. I like the term, challenged. It leaves children with the feeling that the challenge can be overcome. To point out "weaknesses" makes children feel inadequate.

If you wish to find out more about this approach or any of my other tips, please email me. I would be happy to elaborate. And, please contact "All Kinds of Minds."

"All Kinds of Minds’ mission is to help students who struggle with learning and measurably improve their success in school and life by providing programs that integrate educational, scientific, and clinical expertise."

Click here to send me an email: scorbobby@gmail.com

Robert Scorby Copyright January 9, 2007 (all rights reserved)