Many children and teens come up against barriers or hurdles during their education. Every child encounters subjects that are tough to crack, they may have difficult relationships with teachers or peers, or they may lack confidence or experience stress or anxiety at school. As a parent, it’s natural to want to do everything possible to help your child to learn and thrive. In this guide, we’ll share some tips to help parents break down learning barriers.
One of the most important steps to take when encouraging children to learn and helping them to do their best is to prioritize communication. Try to create a culture at home that promotes openness. Catch up with your kids at the end of each day, spend quality time together and share your thoughts, ideas and feelings. Let your children know that you’re always available to listen or offer advice and try to make them feel comfortable. If they’re finding a topic difficult at school, for example, or they’re worried about exams, you want to make sure that they feel able to be open and honest with you.
Try a different approach with complex ideas or difficult topics
Every adult has memories of being at school and finding certain topics baffling or stumbling across concepts and theories that seemed impossible to understand or master. If your child is struggling to digest information or get their head around a specific subject or theory, explore different approaches. Try to offer explanations using simple language and use visual resources. Many children and adults respond positively to videos, infographics, charts, diagrams and images. The human brain also processes visual media around 60,000 times faster than text. Watching videos, making posters, looking at images and graphs and playing interactive games can also help to boost information retention. Click here to see examples of video lessons you can access to learn at home. Practical activities can also help children and teens to conquer complex ideas. Scientific experiments are a brilliant example.
Mental health is an increasingly common barrier to learning and development among children and teenagers. Studies show that mental health disorders and stress are becoming more prevalent. CDC figures suggest that over 37% of 12-17-year-olds experience prolonged episodes of feeling sad or hopeless and almost 10% of children were diagnosed with anxiety between 2016 and 2019. Mental health issues can impact focus and concentration, confidence and well-being, sleep patterns and energy levels and the ability to perform cognitive tasks. Poor mental health can also affect relationships and physical health.
It is very common for children and teens to have bad days and to go through periods when they feel worried or anxious, for example, if they have tests or exams coming up. If your child seems to be struggling and you’re worried that their behavior has changed, or they’re anxious without an obvious cause, try to talk to them. Be gentle and tread carefully. Don’t pressure them into speaking to you if they’re not ready. Let them know you will be there if they need you and encourage them to seek advice elsewhere if they would feel more comfortable talking to other people. They might have a teacher who they get on very well with, they might want to speak to an older sibling or they may be more inclined to open up to a doctor, for example.
A lack of confidence can hold children back at any age. If a child doesn’t feel confident, they may be reluctant to participate in class and they might doubt their own abilities. They may assume that there’s no point in setting goals because they can’t achieve them or they may shy away from trying new things or taking on challenges. It can be difficult to build confidence in children but there are steps you can take. Focus on your child’s strengths, recognize, reward and celebrate achievements and milestones, avoid making comparisons with yourself or other people and encourage them to try new things and broaden their horizons. Don’t dwell on mistakes and make sure your child knows that nobody is good at everything. Try to avoid putting too much emphasis on results and grades. There are lots of ways of being successful and multiple traits that make people special, such as kindness, creativity, compassion, generosity, inquisitiveness, loyalty and integrity.
Many children come up against barriers, which impact learning and their ability to perform well at school. As a parent, it’s natural to want to help your child to overcome hurdles. To break down barriers, prioritize communication and mental health, look for ways to tackle difficult subjects and make learning more engaging and fun and boost your child’s self-confidence.