Most kids who struggle with learning disabilities have a terrible time breaking down information so they can put it in neat and tidy categories for optimal learning.
These kids are “whole” thinkers, which means they have a difficult time breaking down information into bite-sized pieces. They see the whole picture, which can be a blessing and a curse. It becomes a curse when these “whole” learners become overwhelmed.
It happens to adults as well. I’m right-brain dominant and a “whole learner” so sometimes my “to do” list is so long I get nervous and sweaty, wondering what to do first. I fret about how on earth I’ll ever get all those items completed on my list with the time constraints it seems like I always have.
Here’s the funny thing. If I put my head down and go through my list one-by-one, it often doesn’t even take that long. The problem is that all those tasks loop in my brain, becoming bigger and more unmanageable the more I think about them.
But if I dig in, before long, my list is completely crossed off. Satisfaction. Peace. No sweat. No fretting.
As adults, we often call this “eating the frog”, a phrase coined by success expert Brian Tracy. Even though we don’t want to do particular tasks, if we set aside a time to “eat the frog” and commit to completing the list of tasks, we can make the unmanageable…manageable.
Kids can be taught how to “eat the frog” as well.
Following are four ways to help your unique learner break down tasks so they are manageable…so learning can be easy and fun…as it’s meant to be. And yes, it’s okay to tell them you’re teaching them how to “eat the frog”!
1. You might have to break down the task for your child or student, as most likely she can’t do this herself. For example, if your child has to learn all multiplication facts by a certain date, then start with 1’s. When 1’s are mastered, go to 2’s and so forth until they’re all learned. Some tasks feel so overwhelming that the student shuts down to it before even starting. But one bite of the “frog” isn’t so hard to take, and before long, lots of bites equate to the whole task being accomplished.
2. Use visuals as often as possible. For instance, if your child is expected to learn 100 sight words, then make a simple chart. For each sight word that’s learned and remembered, let him put a star in the proper space. You can give a reward. Ten stars can mean he gets twenty extra minutes of video games or a small toy he’s been wanting.
3. Teach your child to set goals. Goal setting is important not just for academic success, but for life! Once you’ve broken down tasks for a certain skill, sit down with your child and create some workable goals. Kids will often say things like they want straight A’s, but that’s a “whole” way of thinking. Break down what it would take to get an A in Science, her favorite subject. Once she gets an A in Science, you can work on other subjects. Extra-curricular activities that require goal setting can be helpful in this arena.
4. Teach your child to just focus on one step at a time. You can sit down together and go through each smaller step that’s necessary to complete an assignment or goal. Write down the steps and have your child mark them off as they are completed. Right-brain dominant thinkers often have such a hard time with this, so if you can do something as easy as helping him make a “task list” to “eat the frog”, then battles and stress can be avoided.
Kids want to do well. Sometimes, they just need a little help along the way!