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The dimensions of learning:

Learning is not simple. There are three important areas to think about. First, your child’s abilities are where learning starts. Some children learn easier than others. However easily your child learns, he learns some things more easily than other things. Some assignments and subjects are easier and others are harder. Even if he is a very good learner, learning is hard work at times.

Next, his attitude is important. Does he want to learn? Is he willing to do what he needs to do to get the job done? It comes down to this. Does he think he is important enough to work at it? Is his future important enough to him to bother learning? Learning takes self-discipline and hard work. It also takes an attitude that says, “I am important enough to do what I have to do.”

Third, your child needs learning skills. Some of these skills help him pay attention and study. Some help him listen and try to understand. Others help him cooperate. Still others help him follow the rules. He also learns about what adults expect and about the rights of others. If your child has problems learning, look at his abilities, attitudes, and skills.

To start your evaluation of your child’s learning success and school adjustment, answer these three questions. First, does he or she have the ability to do assigned school work? It is easy and natural for a parent to answer yes to the question. No one likes thinking his child does not have the ability to succeed. Unfortunately, some youngsters do not. Here is how to tell.

If your child does well with some assignments, he likely has the ability to do the work. If you have not seen him do well on a repeated basis, you do not know whether he has the ability.

Start your evaluation by talking to your child’s teacher. If she says he has the ability, have her show you several examples of his work where he did well. If she cannot do this, you and she need to check into it more. She knows how to do this and has access to the necessary resources through the school.

Next, evaluate your child’s attitude. Is he generally positive about school and learning? If not, there is a problem. It may have to do with his confidence and self-esteem. It also may be because he is not very successful at school. Remember this. Bad attitudes are much more likely caused by failure than is failure caused by a bad attitude. Failure and little to no success come first. The bad attitude comes last. Unfortunately, the bad attitude is what everyone notices and tends to see as the problem.

Finally, does your child have the skills he needs to succeed? If he is not succeeding, this is the most likely source of his difficulties. It is unusual to see a child who knows how to succeed but fails anyway. It happens but is a most uncommon kind of learning and school adjustment problem. Your child’s having this problem is very unlikely. He or she deserves your sincere effort to find out what the real problems are.

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