The Freedom of Learning Differences

Do those two terms, freedom and learning differences sound like they don’t belong together?


Boy smiling, swinging on rope swing, green trees and sunshine in the background. Caption reads: The Freedom of Learning Differences


Notice that the title here is The Freedom OF Learning Differences, not the freedom FROM them.  (I do believe in both, by the way.)


If you are a parent of a child with learning differences, and you see how much he struggles, you see how much harder she works than everyone else just to keep up, then you probably don’t see how learning differences can offer any kind of freedom, for you or for your child.


So let me ask you this.  Which camp are you in?


Camp A) I want to help my child get back on track, to fit into the school system, to learn the same way that everyone else learns.

(Conform to the system.)


Camp B) Nothing has gone wrong here.  My child learns differently, therefore should not be expected to meet the expectations of the school.  Accommodations are enough.

(Survive the system.)


When you have a school-aged child who struggles to read or to learn, you may have the sense that Camp A and Camp B are your only two options.  I’d like to offer you another.


As someone who’s helped many children overcome learning difficulties, I fully support the kind of training that helps kids succeed in school.  Even though public schools aren’t necessarily designed to support students who learn differently, you CAN help your child not only survive the system but thrive in it.


Sure, that sounds a lot like Camp A, fitting into the system.  The difference is that I DO NOT want your unique learner to conform.


We DO want reading, writing, and arithmetic to be just as easy (or challenging) for your child as it is for every other learner.  My vote is always for effective cognitive strength training over accommodations.


We ALSO want to support and celebrate what makes your learner unique.


Learning differently means your child experiences the world differently than most.  Learning differently should be celebrated.


Why learn the same way that everyone else learns when you can stand out above the rest, to offer new and novel perspectives, to share a more colorful and original viewpoint that no one else has thought of?


Let me share some wise advice from a homeschool mom:

Don’t try to replicate conventional school at home.


You have something that the school doesn’t have, the freedom to create an environment that capitalizes on your child’s strengths and tailors intervention that truly fits.


Even if you don’t homeschool and you just want to provide extra help at home, you have the freedom to design that help in a way that you and your child both feel great about.   How?  By offering hands-on learning, tapping into creativity (yours and his), letting her loose in the library with no expectations about the books she chooses, playing skill-building games, exploring museums, exploring nature, watching and discussing documentaries.


Celebrating learning differences offers kids the ultimate freedom to be themselves.   Once the cognitive supports are in place, they are free to learn AND they are free to shine in their own brilliant ways.


So, what is Camp C?


Camp C) I want to help my child learn with ease and confidence without sacrificing my child’s unique abilities.


For you, whether that involves hiring outside help or learning to provide the training yourself, I hope you’ve been able to expand what you believe is possible for your brilliantly unique learner.