Poor comprehension or low literacy?

Students often come to Coach House under the impression that they lack comprehension skills. Students in the middle school years (Years 5—8) are particularly plagued with this problem. They soon discover that they actually need to learn and practice spelling, punctuation and grammar. With good reading and writing skills, comprehension improves.

Surveys in schools have shown that the weakest areas of performance in NAPLAN testing is grammar – and busy teachers are often overwhelmed by the level of need in this area. Low literacy can often be missed until the student is halfway through their primary school years. Whatever the age of the student, it’s readily fixable once it has been identified. Systematic teaching is the key.

Anxiety – the biggest performance killer
For many kids, what goes on in the classroom is not having an impact because of what’s happening in the playground. Stress from bullying, friendlessness, embarrassment, chronic shyness, family difficulties and illness or injury seriously impedes learning. Studies show that when students are anxious, their brains can slow down or even shut down cognitive processing.

All humans work more efficiently, and enjoy their work more, when they are stress-free. The position of the struggling student feels hopeless. They try for a while, then many just give up. They conclude that they are poor learners and their lack of success turns into a lack of self-belief that cripples future achievement. They become unhappy at school and the cycle continues. Intervention in that cycle is essential. But for some students, switching classes or getting learning support may not be an option.

We see frustrated teachers over-extended and unable to cope with their workloads. We see exhausted parents being placed on waiting lists for therapists and specialists that cannot fit everyone in. Often, children are being sent to these folk for assessment – where learning problems are suspected but not yet diagnosed. The, after waiting months for attention and treatment, in many cases the child’s issue still remains undiagnosed.

Vision and hearing tests may return normal results. Some parents may draw the conclusion that their child has a problem with cognitive processing speed – a fault that seems hardwired in the brain. But, we see many students who’ve simply developed a belief that they have a learning disability. Repeated failure to achieve expected outcomes reinforces that belief, leading to de-motivation. Soon, self-protective mechanisms take over and the student grows upset, embarrassed, angry and ultimately disinterested in learning.

The key to turning things around for students caught in this bind is simple – solid, individually tailored teaching that patiently re-teaches content and skills until they are mastered. Everyone is capable of learning.

To contact Coach House for bookings or enquiries, call 0437 155 338 9am to 9pm seven days a week. To visit, call in at 22 Lake Street, Laurieton, or email us at allychumley@msn.com.

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