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Are you concerned about the stress your child’s learning difficulties are placing on them and the toll these challenges are taking on their mental health and well-being?

or

Have you recognized that your child is struggling to learn during your homeschooling sessions, and, as a result, you want to address their difficulties before their well-being becomes compromised?

Either way, know, you are not alone and Arrowsmith can help.

At Arrowsmith, we believe, everyone wants to get up each day and engage in the world in a positive way, contributing fully and doing their best, at least, that’s how we all started out. But, what happens when your best doesn’t seem to be enough, day after day; week after week; task after task; encounter after encounter? What happens to one’s sense of optimism, and more so, one's sense of self? This is our worry for children who struggle with a learning difficulty.

Over time, the struggle posed by learning challenges can wear away at one’s mental health and well-being, of both the child experiencing difficulties learning and potentially, the parents who love them. It is challenging to witness and our hearts hurt when our children are hurting – this too, takes a toll. Perhaps, you can relate.

According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, about 20 % (or 1 in 5) of the general population of children and teens under the age of 19 struggle with mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem, while 40% of people with LDs are estimated to experience mental health concerns.

You can read more in our blog, The Cost of Learning Disabilities, and the Solution

How a Learning Disability Can Impact a Child’s Well-Being and Mental Health

Possibly, we are all positioned with the potential to experience compromised mental health when the demands placed upon us exceed our capacity to manage.

Think of someone you know who seemed to have everything together and was on a performance trajectory that yielded what appeared to be nothing but success. Then suddenly, they began struggling emotionally, perhaps the result of a difficulty at work, an illness in the family, a personal illness or a significant stressor at home. The situational demands of life reached a level that exceeded the individual’s capacity to cope, resulting in compromised mental health. For a child with a learning difficulty, the tipping point can occur and continue to slide when life shifts from learning through play with ease, to being challenged by academic learning and navigating social situations appropriately. The expectations have increased and exceed the child’s current capacity to succeed.

When learning is continuously difficult, feelings of frustration, inadequacy and shame may occur and lead to low self-esteem, high levels of distress, depression, anxiety, poor sleep and potentially, suicidal ideations.

Over time, children and teens may learn to cope by avoiding academic tasks and social situations they find difficult or stressful. Although avoidance may bring some very brief relief from stressors, it makes it harder to learn to cope with these feelings over the long term. Patterns of avoidance will also lead to further academic challenges or academic gaps, which in turn increases feelings of frustration, anxiety, and self-doubt. These feelings can significantly compromise overall mental health and well-being and interfere with the capacity to fully and positively engage in life.

How a Neuroplastic Approach Can Help Address Learning Disabilities in a Homeschool Environment

Within your homeschool program, consider the impact of responding to your child’s learning challenges by reducing expectation and utilizing workarounds versus the benefits of addressing the core difficulties – head on – literally.

Pathways of workarounds and avoidance do not lead to success. Instead, let’s work to create a pathway to success for your child by forming and strengthening their neural pathways through a neuroplastic approach.

You can learn more about the power of neuroplasticity in our Ultimate Guide to Neuroplasticity.

By gaining an understanding of your child’s cognitive profile, Arrowsmith can engage your child in a neuroplastic program that strengthens their underperforming cognitive functions to increase their capacity for learning.

What are Cognitive Functions?

Any task, whether it is reading, writing, math or problem solving, relies on the various cognitive functions within our brains. Cognitive functions refer to the characteristic job of a region, or network of regions, of the brain.

Unaddressed, underperforming cognitive functions are reflected as difficulties in learning and in completing the tasks requiring them. Well developed cognitive functions are reflected in our ability to accomplish tasks and experience success.

The capability of our brain to perform certain tasks comes down to the strengths and weaknesses of our cognitive functions.

To understand the origin of a learning difficulty, we need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each cognitive function that make up your child’s cognitive profile. When learning to read, write and calculate, our brain’s cognitive functions are utilized in ways that they may not have been called upon before. While reading, many cognitive functions are engaged, facilitating our ability to recognize letters, decode text and comprehend what has been written. Writing, solving math problems, and socializing, utilize some of the same and some different cognitive functions.

When a function is underperforming, we are underperforming.

Learn more about the range of cognitive functions Arrowsmith strengthens through an innovative and neuroplastic approach.

Something we find fascinating here at Arrowsmith, is how on the surface we see that a child is struggling to read, but the specific cognitive functions that are getting in the way of their success can vary from individual to individual. Through an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment, we are able to determine which specific cognitive functions are getting in the way of one’s success and which functions are performing well.

The reason one child is struggling will be for a different reason than another, as everyone’s cognitive profile is unique.

Are You Curious About Your Child's Cognitive Profile?

To begin considering your child’s strengths and weaknesses through a cognitive lens, complete our complimentary Arrowsmith Cognitive Questionnaire. A member of our team would be happy to discuss the results with you and learn more about your child and how we may be able to assist.

DISCOVER YOUR UNIQUE COGNITIVE PROFILE

When we look at statistics forming connections between weakened mental health and learning difficulties, I asked myself, what came first – the learning challenge or the compromised mental health? From our understanding of the cognitive functions and the impact that struggling to learn can have on mental health, my prediction would be that in most cases, the learning challenges came first.

If your child is struggling with a learning difficulty, are you concerned about which percentage they will find themselves within – the 40% with mental health challenges or the 60% without?

Let’s be proactive and help your child by enhancing their cognitive capacity for learning, contributing to their overall well-being and positioning them for success in life.

If you would like help in understanding what is getting in the way of your child’s success and support them in overcoming their challenges, reach out and we can work with you to create a personalized path to brain change and your child being their best.

TALK WITH SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

Shelley Woon
Post by Shelley Woon
May 14, 2024
Shelley, a passionate educator, brings a solution focused and collaborative perspective to each situation which is informed by her 30+ years of engaging with students, families and community partners. She values the brain-learning connection and is eager to assist others in developing an understanding of a neuroplastic approach in unlocking potential, particularly for those struggling with learning difficulties. She is thrilled to be an integral part of the dynamic and innovative Arrowsmith community. She holds a Master of Education in Leadership, and Supervisory Officer and Principal qualifications, along with Specialists in Special Education and Reading.