Posts Tagged ‘language disorders’

What our System Does to Children Without Attention Spans

August 7, 2012

Why is it alright for children to be tone deaf  at music or fail at sport but it’s not acceptable for children to struggle to maintain concentration?

Why do educators believe that if you easily lose concentration you have a disability that must be fixed. Remember, these are the same teachers whose minds wander during professional development sessions and who stare into space during staff meetings. Yet, when their students gaze out the windows while they’re teaching a maths skill – it’s time to get the child assessed!

Talk about hypocrisy!

Teachers are obsessed with fixing the attention spans of children. They call for hearing tests, speech analysis, psychological examinations, occupational therapy sessions, language disorder checks and if you are really unlucky start the ADHD ball rolling.

Do they ever consider that children are not all meant to have endless attention spans? Just like every child can’t draw a landscape, every child cannot sustain a 20 minute mat session. What is it with mat sessions anyway? When is the last time a teacher tried to sit on a floor without so much as back rest to lean on for an extended period of time? It’s unbelievably uncomfortable! Yet you get teachers complaining all the time about children not sitting still or failing to pay attention. Try paying attention when your back feels like it was just hit by a rolling pin!

And have teachers ever contemplated that it might be their dry and boring style of teaching and their failure to properly communicate to children that has their class zoning off completely? Worksheet dense, talky, stagnant lessons result in inattentive students – guaranteed!

So a recent study shows that children with better concentration spans have a better academic success rate. In my view this study tells us more about the way we teach than the virtues of concentration:

Toddlers who are better at concentrating, taking directions and persisting with a game even after hitting difficulties have a 50 per cent greater chance of getting a degree when older, a two-decade long experiment found.

The study tracked 430 kids from pre-school to 21-years-old, monitoring academic and social development, behavioural skills and behaviour at home and in the classroom.

Parents were asked to watch how long the children would play with one particular toy while at home, while teachers were instructed to give the class a task and then monitor which toddlers gave up and which ones kept persevering until they had completed it.

Results of the study by Oregon State University were published in the online journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

The children most likely to go through further education were those who, at an early age, persisted in tasks and paid attention in pre-school sessions, said researchers.

Perhaps if classroom conditions changed we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the student without the super-human concentration endurance.

Click on the link to read Kids Don’t Need Gold Stars

Click on the link to read Experts Push for Kids to Start Driving at 12

Click on the link to read Kids as Young as 3 are Getting Tutors

Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

February 27, 2012

I’m not a medical expert, so excuse me if I show my ignorance, but I am constantly amazed by what looks like a overdiagnosing of kids. From ADHD to autism, from dyslexia to language disorders, our students are being bombarded with medically based names for sometimes seemingly everyday based problems.

Sometimes these diagnoses prove spot on, and ultimately guide the teacher to better understanding their students. At other times however, I feel the diagnosis seems rushed, lazy and counter productive. Not only do such students receive the stigma of their newfound disability, but they also tend to lose more confidence because of it, rather than letting the revelation give them a new lease on life.

What bothers me is that in making these diagnoses, GP’s, occupational therapists and speech pathologists often see a child’s low confidence levels as a sign of a condition that is impeding their learning. Why can’t a child’s learning challenges be caused plainly and simply by their confidence issues? Why does it always have to be a condition? Why don’t they try to improve a child’s self-esteem before prescribing and labelling?

I can’t tell you how many students I have seen over the years that have been diagnosed with some learning disorder that have responded not to the recommended regime, but to a devoted teacher that spends just as much time trying to raise the child’s self-esteem as they do trying to improve the child’s academic skills.

Sometimes I think we fool ourselves into believing that school life is easy and that all children should be able to cope fairly well. School is tough for children. It can potentially damage a child’s sense of self and can be quite detrimental to their feeling of worth.

I’m not surprised kids are reluctant to go to school. I am surprised however, that our psychologists think that only 1-2% of children fall in that category:

… suffering from school refusal, an anxiety condition that affects 1 to 2 per cent of children.

”A certain degree of anxiety or reluctance to go to school is normal,” psychologist Amanda Dudley says.

”But for some, they experience excessive anxiety and it can result in persistent refusal to go to school.”

Children who experience school refusal often complain of stomach aches, headaches, nausea and other physical symptoms and are often extremely distressed when it is time to go to school.

”It can be all of a sudden that the child refuses to attend; it can be after something upsetting at school or after legitimate absence from school,” she says.

School refusal isn’t a condition. It is a natural response to the challenges that children face at school. It is also a sign that educators are blind to the real needs of their students. By overlooking self-esteem issues and instead concentrating on placing seemingly normal children on an ever-growing spectrum, we are labelling children instead of responding to them. We are diagnosing instead of truly connecting with them.

I accept that there are children with special learning needs who require targeted programs and individual support, but I also believe that there are many children who would be better served if their school helped them to adjust to school life instead of bracket them with a condition or disorder.

 


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