Take A Creative Approach to Dealing With Learning Disabilities

Children who struggle academically due to a learning disability are, by definition, in possession of average or above average intelligence. Their disability doesn’t mean that they cannot learn, only that traditional teaching methods have not reached them. Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences describes differential ways of learning. There are people who take in information auditorily, visually, or by performing physically. There are people who learn best from books, or from interacting with others. By exploiting these multiple avenues of access, educational goals become more attainable. We have to tailor the approach, to the individual strengths and weaknesses of the particular child. Children with learning disabilities often struggle in the classroom. This can damage their self-esteem and lower their expectations for academic success. But kids with disabilities such as autism, dyslexia, and attention difficulties are frequently inventive, creative, and very intelligent. They can flourish, if their instructors are willing to think outside the box.

Using The Arts In Education:

Music therapy, in the form of music instruction, dance, or learning to play an instrument, can improve academic performance in students with learning difficulties. Studies demonstrate Improvements in communication skills and behavioral outcomes, along with an elevated mood and sense of self worth, among participants receiving music education. The art of dance teaches mathematical skill, integrating emotional and cognitive development. It can help them to express emotional states, and address concentration, aggression, and conflict behaviors. Performing in plays can help remediate social language skills and helps autistic students develop theory of mind and increased empathy. Creating visual works of art, in the mediums of paint and clay sculpting, can improve dexterity and reinforces math and spatial skills. Art therapy can allow nonverbal children, or children with communication difficulties, to find new methods of self expression and actualization.

The Practical Arts:

Making handicrafts allows children to experiment with texture, color, and arrangement, and reinforces spatial understanding. Creating something beautiful brings with it a sense of real accomplishment that restores self-esteem and a sense of autonomy and independence. Visual and kinesthetic learners, who struggle with academic concepts in traditional educational approaches may benefit from a more hands-on, directed method such as making something with their own hands. Sewing, knitting, and crochet are practical life skills that allow personal creative expression that will benefit the student for the rest of their life. Sewing, and the other activities, can be frustrating if you don’t have a good starting point of resources. Fortunately there is help online, such as this list from HomeAdvisor. In the same vein, classes in cooking and preparing food teach self-reliance and creative expression, while improving manual dexterity and skill level. By focusing on a child’s particular interests, and targeting the ways in which they learn and retain information, we can meet their educational needs while encouraging their creativity.

Utilizing the arts for therapeutic and educational interventions benefits students with learning disabilities by allowing differential access to learning, according to each child’s individual talents. The acquisition of skills and expression of creative impulse enhances self confidence and self-worth, and can even yield practical applications that help guide the student towards greater personal autonomy and sense of self. Academically speaking, such strategies improve hand-eye coordination, dexterity, physical spatial sense, mathematical and communication abilities. But arts education in the US is in a time of crisis, with budget cuts targeting music, art, and drama across the country. Home economics and shop left in the eighties, depriving our students of many hands-on learning experiences and the opportunity to enjoy the act of creating something meaningful with their own hands. We owe our children the opportunity to learn by self-expression. We need arts instruction, so that all our students may benefit from its advantages. For children who have trouble learning in a classroom setting, such instruction is more than helpful, it is absolutely necessary.

Thanks to guest blogger Lillian Brooks

LearningDisabilities.info was created to offer information and understanding to parents of children with learning disabilities, as well as adults who are in need of continued support to succeed



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