By Linda Broatch, M.A.
Are you concerned that your child who is learning to speak English also struggles too much with his schoolwork, or that he's frustrated or discouraged with school? Has his teacher told you that your child is learning more slowly than his classmates?
Children who are learning English may have difficulty with schoolwork for many reasons. In order to help your child, you and the school must first figure out the specific reason for his problems.
As a first step, think about factors such as physical health, emotional issues or other challenges he may face. For example, learning problems can sometimes be the result of:
If your child hasn't had a recent medical check-up, it's a good idea to schedule a complete physical examination to rule out any health issues.
For English language learner (ELL) students, learning English at the same time they're learning academic content, such as science or social studies, is very difficult mental work. So it's not unusual for them to struggle with learning issues on occasion. But ELL students may also experience more serious learning difficulties. According to Dr. Alba Ortiz, a professor and researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, there are three types of conditions that may lead to learning difficulties for ELL students:
If your instincts tell you that your child may have an LD, trust those feelings, and ask your school to have your child tested for LD. However, it may be useful, before asking your child's school to evaluate him for LD, to consider how the learning environment (Type 1 difficulties), or undetected learning problems (Type 2 difficulties) might be contributing to your child's struggles with schoolwork.
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