The Letter Many Struggling Learners Could Write

A love of learning is the rocket fuel of education. Learning avoidance is a headwind.

Hey Mom,

I know you love me and want the best for me. I also know you are disappointed that I don’t like reading as much as you did as a kid. And you get frustrated when I take so long on my homework. 

And you keep telling me not to worry when I get things wrong, that everybody makes mistakes. You want me to be a learning risk taker –  I know what you mean, like my sister — to not be afraid of reading hard books or trying new things at school.

Easy for you to say, not so easy for me.

Enjoy Reading, Really?

You and my teacher both tell me that as long as I keep reading, it will get easier and more interesting. Well Mom, that’s not happening!

What is happening is that it’s getting harder. There are fewer pictures in the books now, and so I am finding it harder to guess the words. Yes, Mom, I guess lots of words when I read. Actually, that worked pretty well for a long time, but it’s not working so much now – there are too many words.

I know you dread our reading routine every night, the lengths I go to just to avoid reading. I don’t mean to cause you trouble, really I don’t. And If reading were as easy for me as it is for my sister I would do it. I would love to like reading the way you do.

But Mom, reading is torture. I think I am pretty smart and so it’s frustrating that everyone else finds it so easy. But for me, it’s like a whole new language on the page. There are a few words I recognize, but many I don’t. And yet, my job as a kid is to learn to read.

Enjoy reading? I don’t think so. 

Homework

We have a tough time with homework, don’t we? I wish that were not the case. I am sorry I haven’t been very nice to the tutors. They keep asking me about what the teacher said at school, and I have no clue. She talks way too fast.

I know it’s crunch-time when the assignment goes up on the board, but really, our teacher thinks we can write at lighting speed. We can’t. Or at least, I can’t.

Learn New Things, Are You Kidding?

I know you and my teacher think that the way to learn is to be open to new ideas, to take risks, to not sweat mistakes. Man, that sounds great. But that’s not me. 

You might not realize this, but as I see it, I have taken lots of risks in my learning. You know I have to read out loud in class, right?  You have heard me read out loud, so you know it is a huge adventure. Really, most of the time it’s downright humiliating.

Honestly Mom, I wonder if there is something wrong with my teacher.. She mumbles. I find it hard to make out the words she is saying, let alone figure out what she is talking about.

And when she asks me a question, she gives me no time to reply. By the time I have figured out what she has said, and thought about a response, she has already asked someone else. That’s embarrassing Mom. She needs to give me more time!

And so my strategy at school is to lay low, avoid having to read out loud and try not to make a fool of myself.

I just thought you should know.

Changing This Attitude Takes More Than Tutoring

This quite natural defensive attitude to learning – an outgrowth of an underlying learning issue – slows learning progress even further and explains why most struggling learners tend to fall behind a little more each year. In many cases this is despite getting more learning support than the regular class.

A love of learning is the rocket fuel of education. Learning avoidance is a headwind.

Yes, a little bit of tutoring for an hour a day might help.  However, tutoring is a support system that does not pretend to target a child’s underlying learning skills in a way that can influence learning confidence and learning attitudes. 

Making a real change

A love of learning comes within.  You only love things you are good at.

And so to move a child from learning avoidance to a love of learning, your child needs to feel the change in cognitive and reading skills deep down.  From there, new confidence and a new attitude to learning can develop. Not to mention, better learning skills –  an easier time hearing the teacher, reading fluency, better comprehension.

If you want to turn the tide for your child – turn the learning avoidance headwind into a love of learning backwind — you will need to change underlying learning skills in a profound and fundamental way. This can only happen if you pursue an intervention – one that addresses your child’s unique cognitive sources of difficulty.

If you’d like to learn how Gemm Learning’s learning intervention works, tell us about your child here.

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