If your students truly enjoy studying, and they love difficult homework assignments, congratulations! The unique learner who I call The Excessive Studier, however, is not that student.
Let’s meet Beth. She’s a good example of The Excessive Studier. In the early grades, Beth had no trouble learning to read. She enjoyed a fair amount of academic success.
That success began to dwindle right around the third grade. Beth, a highly conscientious student, started spending an exceptional amount of time completing homework assignments. She strongly believed in doing well at school. Despite her extra efforts, however, she barely achieved average grades.
At first, Beth’s parents brushed off her excessive studying as a symptom of perfectionism. Nothing to worry about, they thought. They regularly praised their daughter for her diligence, for doing her best.
Then Beth’s parents noticed a disturbing pattern. More often than not, Beth arrived home from school exhausted, irritable and moody. She often required a nap as soon as she came home. She then hit the books until bedtime, only to surface long enough for dinner.
Beth’s friends would call her to chat or to invite her to play. Her typical reply? “I can’t. I have to study.”
What was going on with this child? Clearly not everyone worked as hard as Beth only to barely get by.
Let’s Talk Auditory Processing
Auditory processing challenges show up in a variety of ways. Typically they include trouble understanding or recalling what is heard or read. This is just as true when a teacher or parent gives verbal directions as it is when a child reads silently, “listening” to her inner voice.
Expectations for active listening and independent reading typically increase around third grade, which is why Beth’s parents and teachers never really noticed her auditory processing challenges before.
Beth’s unique challenges, underdeveloped auditory memory skills and slow processing speed, resulted in below average vocabulary as well as poor reading comprehension.
Not only did she NOT understand the words on the page, her eyes would track the words much faster than the language center of her brain could interpret. She constantly found herself reading and rereading for understanding.
Once the words made sense, she still had trouble remembering what they were all about. Thus, her hours and hours of studying did not translate to the high achievement in class one might expect.
The Good News About The Excessive Studier
Personally I’m more a proponent of therapeutic interventions than of encouraging unhealthy compensating skills.
That said, one compensating skill that I do NOT object to develops when Excessive Studiers actually avoid the exhausting work of listening to, interpreting and remembering instructions. Instead, they give the instructions as bosses of their own companies.
Individuals with auditory processing challenges tend to use visual cues that help them understand auditory input. Add a strong work ethic to the mix, plus a talent for reading people, and you have a recipe for success as top dog.
Reading Help for The Excessive Studier
Not all auditory processing challenges are due to slow processing speed. In Beth’s case, slow auditory processing improved significantly with the same intervention described in The-On-Again-Off-Again profile. Discover a few more suggestions for students like Beth below.
Understanding the rhythm and flow of language strengthens reading comprehension. Some students with auditory processing challenges may absolutely love to sing but can’t keep the beat. They may also read stories without inflection or without pausing at punctuation marks. Any activity that encourages students to listen to, then repeat a rhythm also enhances reading skills.
Relating heard information to visual imagery builds understanding and memory. At the basic level, simply say any word (avoid non-visual words) and ask your student to describe it to you in detail. Encourage details like color, size, orientation, background, etc. Practice with single words, then build up to phrases, then sentences.
By third grade, most students can recall 6-7 units of information. Excessive Studiers and those with auditory processing challenges may need extra help in this area. While Building Visual Memory Skills THE BOOK is designed to strengthen students’ visual memory, you can adapt most activities so that they focus on auditory memory development as well. I also invite you to explore the activities inside Building Auditory Memory Skills THE BOOK.