In this Vital Mercy series, Dr. Brenda Murphy shares letters to help calm the fears, answer the questions and steer parents on a path to successful teaching and learning with struggling learners at home.

Many times, we recognize that a child is exhibiting signs of learning struggles, but we cannot figure out the “why” aspect of the issue at hand. Maybe a child is having problems learning letters, sounds, sounding out words, not recalling sight words, understanding what they read, or have poor handwriting. Perhaps, the problem is in addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, or with multistep math problems. Is it the child’s memory, oral communication, or a breakdown in organization that is the cause of the learning struggle? 

Most parents do not have the knowledge or expertise to pinpoint the exact cause of their child’s learning struggles without seeking the assistance of an educational professional. Remember that early intervention is the key to strengthening the weakness or fixing the problem altogether.

Now, how do we identify the cause of the learning struggle? 

First, contact a professional learning facility or educational expert and inquire how they would go about determining the best route to take for your child. Each child is different. One size does not fit all.

Second, complete a recommended series of nationally normed and recognized assessments that have been proven to pinpoint the exact cause of learning struggles.

Third, fully understand the assessment results, taking careful notes during any consultation sessions with the educational specialist.

Fourth, create an appropriate and thorough plan of action with your specialist.

Fifth, follow the plan and if the desired results are not achieved make a course correction.

Finally, you may wonder what the assessment process should look like when identifying the cause of the struggle. Formal assessments generally consist of an IQ test to determine potential; educational achievement tests to measure current academic functioning; and language assessments to specify how well a child processes information. These tests identify areas of weakness as well as strengths. Additional evaluations may be necessary if the child exhibits signs of ADD/HD or memory problems.

Overall, it isn’t a difficult process. Paying close attention to a child’s cognitive and academic situation is the key to uncovering the cause of a struggle. Seeking help for a child in need is a great gift to him or her and the family. The earlier the situation is brought to light the sooner it can be resolved. 

In our next letter we’ll talk about counting the costs, 

Brenda Murphy

Read the next letter, Counting the Costs