How to Spot a Learning Disorder in the Classroom

Elevated view of infant school children in a circle in the classroom giving high fives to their smiling female teacher, vertical, close up

Often students are not performing in their classroom in ways that their teachers believe they are capable of. They seem to have the potential but cannot find ways to complete their work. Usually when they are struggling with a learning problem, they will cover it with number of their own smoke screens so no one will find out. However once diagnosed there are some interventions that can be created to help them with whatever problem they are experiencing.

On the Child Mind Institute website, writer Jae Jacobson explores some of the symptoms to look for when identifying learning disorders. Here is the article summary:

Teachers are often the first to notice that a child has a learning disorder. Sometimes the signs are easy to spot, like a student who’s way behind in reading. Or a child who’s working hard but just keeps failing tests. But sometimes the signs are harder to see. And that can mean kids who need help don’t get it.

Kids with LDs often have a big gap between what it seems like they should be able to do and what they’re actually able do. For example, a student who writes awesome essays but can barely do basic math assignments. Or a kid who gives great answers in class but can’t get their ideas down on paper. These gaps often cause kids with learning disorders to be labeled as lazy or told to just try harder, which can take a toll on their self-esteem. Knowing what to look for can help teachers and parents get kids the help they need.

education, school, learning, teaching and people concept - group of students and teacher talking in classroom

Students who need constant reminders of what to do next might be struggling with a skill called working memory. That’s the task of remembering and processing new information, a common issue for kids with LDs. They also may struggle with time management. They may have trouble with transitions or seem disorganized.

Other common signs of learning differences include difficulty following directions, trouble concentrating, and not getting homework done on time — or at all. Failing tests, especially ones you know they’ve studied for, is also a sign.

If a student seems shy — not talking in class or sitting in the back row — they may be trying to hide a learning issue. Other kids might do the opposite, acting out to draw attention away from difficulties or pretending not to care about school. Kids may even cut class, skip school, or be “sick” more often than is usual.

Elementary school students looking at computer

Helping students with learning disabilities get the help they need can make a big difference both in school and out — and for years to come.

I believe if we all are aware of these signs of a learning problem, we will be able to move our students to a more successful academic process as they learn to cope with their identified learning disability.

Gerry Vassar


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