for Parents and Teachers
initial step in intervention for children not doing well in school is to
determine the cause.
school psychologist may be the best source of information, and the
either the school or the parents can request an evaluation to determine
the causes of a child’s learning problems.
following general causes and suggested interventions are based on
the gross distinctions suggested by Rabinovitch:
1. deficits in specific capabilities, 2. lack of
developmental readiness, 3. lack of emotional freedom to learn, and
4. lack of motivation.
Deficits in specific capabilities. Children who have
specific learning disabilities, attention deficits or cognitive deficits
often present a confusing mixture of abilities and disabilities.
Frequently, these pupils are found to have the most severely deviant
childhood behavioral adjustments of all diagnostic groups. Hewett, et
al. In dealing with such difficult children, present a program based on
the following general principals:
- Present the child with small increments of learning that
gradually increase in difficulty based on principles of programmed
- Immediately reward each correct response the child makes; use
social praise and extrinsic motivators (money, candy, etc.);
and withhold the reward for incorrect responses.
- Use systematic word review, discrimination exercises, and
comprehension questions to consolidate learning.
- Provide the child with an actual reading (learning) experience in
a real book in addition to programmed learning of words on a
- Freely adapt the steps, structure, and type of reward used in the
program to ensure continued success.
- Maintain detailed records of each of the child's responses to
follow his or her progress, determine his or her need for program modification, and provide
For the child with specific cerebral impairments, it must be
realized (1) no single or rigid approach can be expected to produce a
universal treatment;(2) the family must be an integral part of any
treatment program (3) each child must be evaluated and taught in terms
of his or her unique
(4) the child may need help from many sources over a long period of
- Lack of developmental readiness.
Many young children starting school are not ready for formal instruction
in basic school subjects. Studies have indicated that end-of-the year
kindergarten children who were judged not ready to go on t o first grade
show the following characteristics:
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Poor ability to follow through on projects
- Poor coordination
Children with these characteristics should be retained in
kindergarten for one more year. They are not ready for a formal academic
- Lack of emotional freedom to learn. It is hypothesized
that children whose anxiety level is too high are unable to attend to
the learning process. Boigon cites a number of case studies where
emotional attitudes blocked the entire learning process. Three attitudes
found common among
- That other individuals have more innate ability to learn.
- That they should not be required to struggle for knowledge and
that they are not responsible for the inability to learn.
- That it is belittling for them to demonstrate ignorance. When
an otherwise able child shows
poor achievement patterns, the teacher may well be advised to see
if the student holds one or
more of these attitudes. Countermeasures include:
- Showing the child (by means of test results, if necessary)
that he or she is intelligent.
- Demonstrating to the pupil that increased knowledge does have
- Telling the child everyone has weakness, as well as strengths,
and that it is not degrading
to admit ignorance about any subject.
- Lack of Motivation.
Research has indicated the validity of the following principles:
- A combination of verbal rewards and punishments is more effective
for reinforcement of
- among children, pushing them to participate in learning
(especially among highly
- Silence, on the part of the teacher, takes on approval when
paired with verbal criticism.
- Silence, on the part of the teacher, takes on disapproval when
paired with praise.
young children, extrinsic, concrete rewards (gold stars, candy,
etc.) are most effective. For
older children social rewards
are more attractive.
- Children identify with and emulate figures in their environment
who have the power to reward. Warm
and rewarding models are
imitated more. Research with young children revealed children receiving high reading readiness scores had
more verbal and affectionately
demonstrative maternal models that children showing low reading
- For girls, achievement in school is strongly related to need for
love and affection. For boys, it
- Parents who set high standards for their children (within reason)
tend to motivate their children to do well in school.
- For white, middle class children, a good self-concept is most
highly correlated with achievement. For minority group children, adequate control over
their failures or successes is
most highly correlated with accomplishment.
- For learning to take place, children must internalize a wish