COLUMN: 6 Ways to Help Your Child Learn
School and learning are among the most life changing events in a person’s life, so why not maximize your child’s experience? It is so important to solve WHY a child is having a hard time focusing or concentrating, is confused or overly rebellious, quarrelsome, bored or any other behavior not appropriate for their age. RESOLVING the underlying cause will help create a positive school experience and a much happier child. Start NOW before school starts, to prevent a problem from even happening.
1. Identify learning style. Often a child that has learning problems is a tactile learner. They require something to hold, squeeze or examine to allow processing of information. Watch your child when they read or have to concentrate on a task. Do they have to have something in their hands to concentrate? I often suggest a soft squeeze ball they can hold. Also, children who didn’t crawl, but went straight to walking, often have difficulties. This is due to the lack of development of right-left brain communication. There are brain exercises to encourage this. Try Googling Brain Gym exercises and it will pull up all the exercises that you can do with your child.I have seen students go from failing in math to understanding it easily, just doing brain gym exercises.
It is also well worth your while to spend a day in your child’s classroom and observe where the problems are occurring—are they where they are situated, a child around them, a certain time of day. All this information is important, because it really helps to identify areas that are often easily changed. Believe me, after being a teacher for 12 years, we just can’t keep an eye on all the students all of the time, so, it really would give me valuable feedback when a parent came in for 2-3 days and helped me identify issues.
2. Maximize optimal nutrition. This requires identifying any food allergies, sensitivities, or irritants that could be causing improper behavior. Also, sensitivities to dyes, preservatives and other typical food chemicals should be identified. This is a simple ½ hour test that can be done using a VEGA machine that tells you right away the foods that your child does best with and the ones to be substituted.
Any nutritional deficiencies should also be identified. Again, this is a 15 minute test identifying any vitamins or minerals that are deficient. They may be zinc (excreted when eating food sensitivities), essential fatty acids (omega 3 oils obtained in flax, hemp, chia or pumpkin seeds and fish oils most commonly in salmon and halibut), B vitamins or Calcium/Magnesium. This is especially true if they do not tolerate cow dairy and are not absorbing the nutrients from food. You will also seebed wetting that goes along with these problems. I test all patients I see for their levels of vitamins and minerals to make sure none are deficient, because this is the foundation of health.
3. Solve chronic ear infections because this leads to hearing loss. This contributes to learning difficulties, slow speech and language development. Identifying food triggers typically ends ear infections. I may look at a herbal or homeopathic remedy to resolve an infection if it is present.
4. Test for Lead toxicity. This should be determined by doing a hair analysis, since this determines accumulation of small amounts of heavy metals over a period of time. They should be chelated out of storage and blood with chlorella or other techniques if present, since lead decreases the ability to concentrate, focus and learn new information.
5. Use herbal combinations or specific homeopathics to help re-build and re-balance the system. I will often use calming herbs that can be made into an herbal tea for kids to drink. For example, chamomile mixed with licorice tea helps with anxiousness, worrying, concentration and focus, because they re-balance the nervous system and the adrenal glands. There are many homeopathics that can also be used to shift different types of behaviors, but, are usually specifically prescribed depending on the behavioral issues.
6. Reward your child. One of the most important parenting strategies is appropriate rewards. I have had many discussions about this over the years, even when I was a teacher, with the mis-directed reward system that some teachers and parents still use. Food should not be used as a reward, either at home or at school! This sets up a pattern where people will reach for food when upset, sad, angry or not happy with their lives, because this was what was used to make them feel “better” or rewarded as a child. It is certainly one of the reasons obesity and diabetes are such issues in our society today. Telling children you’ll get dessert if you eat your meal, is really saying the food is okay, but, the best part is coming, rather than valuing all food groups equally. One of the worst things teachers can do is use candy for rewards. Not only is it straight sugar, but, it is also full of dyes and preservatives and will certainly raise the child’s blood sugar, which, of course, will often result in the exact behavior you are trying to minimize in the classroom! A “reward” for a child should not only be encouragement such as “ You did a great job”, but also possibly a sticker, stamp, extra time outside, playing a game, time out to draw or anything else that is gives them joy. This reinforces the positive behavior with something they would like to have or do.
These strategies typically not only resolve learning issues and unwanted behaviors, but, using the above approaches will have lifelong positive effects! It is truly worth putting in the effort and time NOW. If you would like to identify the underlying reasons for your child’s behavior, make an appointment with Dr. Brenda Gill at 250-362-5035