The Value Of A Coach For Students With Learning Disorders

female teacher helps young girl with glasses work through her learning disability

Is your student struggling? You wonder. They wonder. “What is wrong?” Having a hard time in school can have long-term effects beyond their grades. What can be done to help navigate an educational career with learning struggles? Which obstacles prevent someone from making progress like his or her peers? Maybe a teacher has some concerns and refers your student for an evaluation. The result is a diagnosis of a learning disability. Or perhaps the student is ignored and goes undiagnosed while straining along without any support.

Often a student is several years behind their grade level by the time they are identified as having a learning disability. Or they have been pushed through with no idea of their weaknesses. Their self-esteem has been damaged by their lack of academic achievement and the ensuing ridicule by their peers. This affects their resilience, level of effort, and even ability to hope. It is difficult for them to believe that the painstaking effort will be worth it when they have failed to make progress for years.

What Is A Learning Disability?

What is a learning disability? In her book, A Work of His Grace, Grace Mutzabaugh, a pioneer in the field of Special Education, defines that phrase in this way, “students who possess average or above-average intelligence but fail to make satisfactory progress in school”.

It isn’t that these students are unable to learn, but they learn differently than they are being taught. Learning disabilities or Learning differences? That depends on several factors. How do you value yourself? What is your belief about how your brain works? How open is your mindset? Do you have a team that supports your endeavors to achieve your goals? Find out how the student learns, and the disability becomes a distant memory.

People who struggle to achieve academically need adults in their corner. Sally Shaywitz labels these incredible individuals in, Overcoming Dyslexia, as : champion, advocate, cheerleader, confidante, supporter, and optimist. Learners benefit from patient and loving advocates who work to ensure that they receive the help and support they need along the way in their educational journey. It is vital to encourage the development of continuous lifelong learning so life can be lived to the fullest. This hope will propel individuals from surviving to thriving, which lessens stress and increases success in academics, work, and relationships.

Belief On The Impact Of Learning

What a person believes about their ability has a great impact on their achievement.

Supportive loved ones benefit when they investigate and discover the facts about the brain’s capacity for learning. Each person’s brain has tremendous potential to be developed. We are never too old or too different to learn! This belief fuels the hope one needs to succeed not only in school but in life as well.

Does the brain have the ability to change and grow? Absolutely! Much research has been published on this subject.

Before broaching the subject of effective instruction, the educator must create a healthy emotional climate for learning. Students with learning disabilities view education or school as drudgery. Even adults vividly recall this drudgery. They have lost hope that it will ever be different for them. With this mindset, it is challenging to move forward. Sharing different beliefs about learning will be a key to opening the door of their dungeon.

What About The Mistakes?

One crucial area to explore is what the learner believes about mistakes. Are mistakes viewed as failures to be ashamed of and avoided? Carol Dweck in, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, proposes that mistakes should be seen as valuable opportunities to be embraced. Correct answers do not teach a student much. Only mistakes, when reflected upon, can spark new synaptic connections that cause the brain to grow.

Another way to plant seeds of hope, and we use this at WOW Living coaching, is to expose them to a great word: YET! It is a superpower word. Take any statement of self-defeat and add “yet” to it, and it becomes a powerful declaration.

Thoughts like, I cannot:

  • do well in school, YET!
  • learn to use this computer, YET!
  • remember, YET!
  • get organized, YET!
  • cook, YET!
  • play the guitar, YET!

Everyone can practice using this small, but impactful word every day.

Value Of Positive Reinforcement

Donalyn Miller, in her brilliant work, The Book Whisperer, states that what struggling learners need is positive reinforcement “for where they are in their development and the chance to feel success” instead of experiencing failure. Success does not happen for individuals with learning disabilities without conscious effort on the part of loved ones in their lives. When it does happen, it must be amplified and enjoyed. Helping those to examine their work and notice their achievement is vital.

For example, if a client struggles with attention and focus we watch for it. When she exhibits those skills we mention it, AND we ask her to evaluate herself. As educational and life coaches, we can praise all day long, but until the client agrees, the progress she or he is capable of will elude him or her.

Each person possesses strengths as well as weaknesses. To address the weaknesses, a school setting often devotes extra time to eradicating the weaknesses. In the process, the individual’s strengths are ignored. This is a misstep that cannot be overstated. For the person to make progress, their self-esteem must be bolstered by investing in activities they enjoy.

How Does Hope Affect Learning?

Another vital component of lifting these individuals is casting a vision of hope that they do have the ability to learn. Never forget: anyone can learn! They need to know that they can learn when instructed in a way that makes sense to them.

Some students may have a learning difference and not a disability. If they learn without any issues outside of the four walls of their school, they do not have a learning problem. A learning difference may be the issue. They learn in a way that the educational establishment is not utilizing.

Mark Twain famously said: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

A Famous Inventor’s Learning Disability Story

Have you heard the story about Thomas Edison’s education? One day he brought his mother a private note from his teacher. He asked his mother what the note said. She told him that his teacher said he was a genius. That the school could not teach him anything new, and he needed to be taught at home.

When Edison, the famous inventor, was going through his mother’s papers after she passed away, he came across the note from his teacher. It stated that he was mentally deficient and was being expelled. The school labeled him with a learning disability, not that of genius.

Thomas Edison’s mother helped change her son’s destiny with her belief and encouragement. Weaknesses do not define a person. Nor does a difference in learning style.

Everyone Is Smart

What can your student accomplish if they believe they are smart? Everyone is smart about something. The unfortunate myth is that intelligence is fixed. If this were true, we could not learn anything.

Does your student excel at:

  • Logical reasoning,
  • Linguistics,
  • Spatial,
  • Kinesthetic,
  • Music,
  • Interpersonal or intrapersonal communication,
  • Natural,
  • Emotions,
  • Existential,
  • Creativity, or
  • Collaboration?

If a student embraces and values who they truly are, the obstacles to learning fall away.

So, if you wonder if a coach could be helpful with your student, please reach out. We’d be more than happy to talk with you.

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Ready to take the leap towards a more joyful life? We’re thrilled to connect with you! Our friendly and dedicated team is here to support you every step of the way.

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