WHEN YOU DON’T SPEAK A CHILD’S LEARNING LANGUAGE
If you’re a teacher, you’ve probably known the frustration of trying to communicate with a student who’s:
Even when you have only your own children to teach, “learning language” issues pop up:
Too many of these situations end with hysterical children, exasperated adults, and mutual resentment. Don’t let that happen to you.
Remember That Teachers Should Also Be Learners
You’re not some omniscient deity never to be questioned. If you take the attitude, “I’m older and I know better, so you have to do it my way,” you’ll hurt the child’s initiative and your relationship. Before you object to anyone’s trying to implement new ways, give them a chance to show why they think their way would work: you might learn something.
The more you think in terms of, “Why can’t you grasp something so obvious?!,” the more frustrated you and the child will become—and the more blind to any means of making things more understandable. If the atmosphere is getting tense, call a break: you’ll do better after your brains refresh.
If you really can’t afford to leave the task undone (this will happen less often if you make a point of keeping schedules uncluttered), don’t just jump in with an impatient, “Oh, I’ll do it!” Show respect for the child and the needs of the situation: “We really have to go now, or we’ll miss the bus to the mall. Let me get your shoelaces this time: you can practice tying them yourself again tonight.” This shows you aren’t giving up on the child himself—you still trust him to learn soon enough.
Consider Getting Help
It often happens that someone else could handle the teaching better: the child’s other parent; an older sibling; or a babysitter, coach, or tutor. Don’t let your pride keep you digging yourself and the learner deeper into the frustration pit; ask around to find someone who better understands the topic or the child’s learning/communications style. (Ask the child, too, what she’d prefer.)
If you’re a professional teacher who can’t seem to get through to a student, your help options include:
Never give up. Many kids who “can’t seem to learn” grow into brilliant achievers!