How would you know if your child has a learning difficulty

SPONGEBOB
Learning difficulty is like a distorted television picture caused by technical problems at the station.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics that, for one to have a better understanding on how it’s like to have a learning difficulty, learning difficulty among children can be likened to “a distorted television picture caused by technical problems at the station. There is nothing wrong with the TV camera at the station or the TV set in your home. Something in the internal workings of the TV station prevents it from presenting a good picture.”

Why I tackled this topic was simple: I wanted to help parents who have this kind of problem with their children. Remember that I, too, am a parent although I don’t encounter learning difficulties with my three-year old son that other parents have been experiencing for their own children. Let me tell you that learning difficulty is reversible, as long as there is willingness on the part of the parents to do something about it.

Children with learning difficulties appear to be just like any normal kids around. They can see and hear just fine and have no problem socializing with other children. But, as what the American Pediatrics Society said, “the problem occurs in the brain after the eyes and ears have done their job.”

There’s no single surefire formula of treating children with a learning difficulty but, as what I’ve said earlier, it is reversible which means there are ways you can help them cope with it. And who would have thought that the phenomenal genius in the person of Albert Einstein suffered learning difficulties with arithmetic as a child. It only proves that learning difficulties can be fixed. You may start trying to apply the following methods, but it’s still best and advisable that you consult professionals or experts of this field in the first place:

  • Observe your child if he or she is showing signs of having difficulty learning with even the most simple of tasks given. Once you found out that your suspicion is right, that your child is having difficulty learning over a particular thing or two, don’t jump up quickly to the conclusion that he or she may have a brain disorder as well. It may be just that he or she is merely lacking the background or the training to handle the situation or task.
  • You can talk to your child’s teacher, when your child is already started schooling when you start to suspect something about the learning difficulties he might have had, to see if the teacher thinks there’s a need for special testing concerning him.
  • Always look for activities that will benefit your children like, for example, helping them create or make different sizes of paper boxes or paper planes and make them as colorful and as creative as you can. This method may help stimulate your children’s learning capability and as a way to address the problem in its earliest stage.
  • Consult your pediatrician and discuss the problem with him or her. They are professionals in that field and they sure know what to do about it. You can start promoting the spirit of cooperation by working together with your pediatrician. After all, it’s for your child’s own good.
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Reflecting on Khalil Gibran’s concept of children

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MY LIVING ARROW. Nathaniel was two years and five months old in this picture.

I came across Khalil Gibran’s essay on children back in my elementary years when it was pasted by my father in the inner cover of our family photo album. It was my first encounter with his writings and I was amazed at the wisdom his words are carrying. I was able to get a copy of his book later on and I could read his essays over and over again without feeling bored because it’s like I’m reading a fresh content each time.

Reading Gibran’s works require a deeper sense of understanding and a change of heart because his was a kind of prophetic mandate to enlighten those who are willing to accept the offer. His concept of children is a declaration of truth and as a better version of what it’s all about. Allow me then, if you may, to quote Gibran’s essay on children:

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the House of Tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Gibran is gifted with eyes that can see beyond the surface—his mind. The way he reveals the machinery of his consciousness belongs to the level that is transcendental, deeply spiritual, and truth-oriented.  The following are my own interpretation based on Gibran’s concept of children:

PARENTS ARE THE STEWARDS, NOT THE OWNERS OF THEIR CHILDREN

As a parent, you may find it unacceptable or tough. But it’s true. Gibran is trying to introduce you to the highest form of understanding by accepting the fact that your children belongs to the Almighty Creator of all things. You don’t own your children but, as a parent, you are tasked to commit and to take the responsibility of raising them in the way and instruction of the Supreme Being.

Gibran was clearly implying that parenthood is not a private party that parents can conduct any way they want but rather, as a trust from the Lord. Your children are on loan to you from God. Parenting is your special calling.

THE METAPHOR OF THE ARCHER AND THE ARROWS

Gibran used a simple metaphor of the archer and the arrow to give a clearer picture of what he’s trying to convey about the parent-child relationship: children are like arrows fired into the air from the archer’s hands. Your job as a parent, therefore, is not to keep your children dependent upon you all the time but to raise them in the way they were purposed to become. You’re raising children to leave, not to stay with you forever.

Your children, as they journey through life, will go places you will never go. They will also be doing things you will never do. And like arrows in the hand of the warrior, your children will fly from your hands one day hoping they’ll hit the mark. But even if they missed, you may still find comfort in thinking that they were all serving a purpose.

THE METAPHOR OF THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW

In my own interpretation, Gibran’s metaphor of the House of Tomorrow is simply the finding of the way back to Paradise, to the Kingdom. It is a place for restoration of an individual’s rightful connections as well as the reclamation of his place in the natural order of things. Gibran tells about the fate of the parents, who cannot visit the House of Tomorrow where their children are destined to be, because in that particular place they will cease to become parents to their children but as creatures equal to each other.

The importance of effective communication between parents and children

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A one-on-one talk with my son Nathaniel in this charcoal-sketch themed picture.

Effective communication is a process by which one person is able to maintain the dynamic connection happening between him and the other person and vice versa. Once effective communication is established between you and the other person or of one group of people to another, empathy comes along naturally allowing you and the other person to participate in the shared experience of joy, and even the pain the other person is feeling. It is about communicating well and working together to understand each other.

Communicating well, by the way, is to effectively deliver the exchange of information, meaning, and feelings of a particular person towards the other, in both the verbal and the non-verbal aspects of it. The question as to whether or not good communications alone can solve problems or resolve issues should be debated over and again. But one thing is for sure, though, anyone who lacks these skills cannot solve problems or resolve issues in the first place.

In the case with parent-child relationship, effective communication is of the utmost importance as the way you talk and listen to your child can have a profound effect on his personality and general well-being. Every word you say is like a strand of thread weaving your child’s identity. Everything you do counts, so that even your facial expressions, like a spell you’re weaving about your child, he will come to experience as something to enmesh him like a spider’s web.

One best way to communicate to your child is to make him feel that every word he says is making sense at all to you. It’s about the appreciation of the worth, the reality of who he is in his own frame of reference as you set aside yours. In that way, you are sending him a message that his way of looking at things is approved by you.

Qualifying your child’s experience does not always mean you have to necessarily agree with him or that his personal thoughts and opinions should as well reflect that of your own. Rather, it is about the total submission of yourself to the center of what is the truth as your child tries to embrace his own interpretation of reality. When you allow your child to meet his basic needs to express himself, you’re validating him in the best possible way.

When you and your child is having a one-on-one talk, no matter what the topic is, it holds both of you towards the center. The purpose of a dialogue is for one person to initiate the discussion while the other person understands what that person is trying to convey and vice versa. To engage in a dialogue with your child is one way you can understand him better.

Learning to dialogue and to stay with it until such a point where emphatic connection between you and your child has been reached, you’re doing more than just a dialogue with him. You’re actually teaching your child how to communicate by showing to him that you are ready to listen aside from expressing your appreciation for his efforts. It sure will not only help you grow as a parent and as a person but as well to give you an insight about how you must connect with your child.

How to help your child develop leadership skills

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My three-year-old son is growing up so fast. In this picture, which was taken just recently, he’s taking time to stand and stare..

If leaders are born, not made, then I won’t be making sense at all writing this article and to share it here in the first place. If all the leaders in history, no matter how great and insignificant, were predestined to lead, then the training and nurturing they would have needed would come out useless. I believe that leadership is something that can either be innate or practiced, allow me then to give you some insights on the matter and from a parent’s point of view.

Parents can help their children develop leadership skills in so many ways. To start with, there must be a clear definition of the word “leadership.”  From a parental perspective, leadership is the ultimate application of good character. It is not enough for a person to possess good character to become a good leader. Because no matter how good you are and can be, if you can’t translate that into action, most especially when the situation requires you so, then what’s the use.

A good leader is someone who knows where he stands and can convince people to go or agree with him in such a way that is motivating, inspiring, and encouraging. He is someone who has the ability, common sense, and courage to live a life in line with such a special identity. He takes delight in maintaining positive relations with others.

Leaders are made, can be made, although some of them are gifted with leadership skills they have inherited from their parents. As a parent, one of the most fruitful and rewarding things you can do is to help your child develop leadership skills. You can start raising your child to become a leader by:

EXPRESSING YOUR PRIDE IN HIM

You must let your child feel how proud you are in every leadership role he is into and one that extends himself to others. Be supportive, especially in times when he needs your approval on something that allows him to act like a leader for a particular situation, in a positive way.

GIVING HIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

There are a lot of ways in which your child can make a difference. It doesn’t always have to be big, but every little way in which you think he is positively contributing something. Simple acts of kindness and volunteerism like helping his playmates fix his broken toys or sharing a portion of his snack can mean a lot.

CREATING AN ATMOSPHERE OF TEAM BUILDING AND COOPERATION

By simply inviting your son’s friends to team up with him or cooperate on a particular cause you were devising or even a clean-up drive, you are helping him shape his leadership mindset with or without yourself knowing it.

ENCOURAGING HIM TO REFLECT ON THE LIVES OF SOME OF THE WORLD’S IMPORTANT LEADERS

Start by introducing before your child the stories or biographies of these loved world leaders and put emphasis on the important things they were able to contribute to the society, the people, and the world that made all the difference. Don’t forget to remind him that these leaders are just ordinary people who made an impact through the services they rendered.

MAKING HIM FEEL THAT IT IS ONE OF THE MOST FRUITFUL AND REWARDING THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR HIM

Helping your child develop his leadership skills can be one of the things you will have a lot to gain for. Once your child feels the importance of your task in making the best out of him, he will radiate the same magnitude of what you’re trying to put into. That’s how leadership should work, with him seeing it first in you.

Why traditional storytelling is still a matter of the utmost importance

nathaniel_reading
Nathaniel may have inherited what has been my passion for reading as shown in this picture when he was only a little over two years old.

Traditional storytelling has been lost in the midst of transition with the introduction of new technologies that replaced the traditional means and ways. New inventions made it all possible by making works easier, faster, and more efficient. But not with traditional storytelling though, as it continues to stand its ground proving why some things are best left alone.

A scientific study has been conducted and came up with a conclusion that one of the determining factors for future academic success of a baby is in the amount of words per hour per babies to hear before the age of two. The baby’s first exposure to language begins at birth, and so with his reading and writing skills as well. Every word you say and read to your baby can generate something that results to brain growth.

Every time you read and re-read a book, your baby’s brain, like a sponge, absorbs all the information it can to form the foundation of what will be his lifelong literacy. It is important to note that words are the basis of literacy which is the ability of an individual to read and write. In that sense, every word you say to your baby in his earliest stage of development is the food for his brain.

Traditional storytelling is important because it builds relationships and closer connections among children, parents, extended family members, and friends and acquaintances. It also contributes a lot to cultural literacy. Cultural literacy, by the way, is about knowing and understanding the past and the present.

Cultural literacy can have a positive impact in young children as it helps them understand and appreciate the shared heritage, institutions, and values that unite people together as a nation. It also helps them to read more fluently and with greater understanding, and in gaining new knowledge and to put that knowledge into its proper perspective. In other words, it helps children to feel they are a part of something bigger than their own selves.

Reflections of a father

Me_and_Thaniel
Sharing a precious moment with my then two-year-old son in this painting-inspired photo.

To become conscious is to undergo a never ending process of self-awareness. It gradually takes place, though, in the way you learn to observe your own actions. You learn to make distinctions between your behavior and the results you so desire.

This kind of awareness becomes the tool that allows you to take notice of the discrepancies directly or indirectly taking you into account. You will become the more of the self-reflective kind of person. To change the way you react to other people, according to you, should base from the information and insight you’re being fed up with.

You learn to discover that, as a way to react better to such a rising need, becoming less-absorbed and less preoccupied with fears are the main ingredients. You feel like you’re chasing after such a strong desire for you to change, from the inside out, which opens your door to a more conscious way of how you can relate to and with others. But then, deep inside, you were able to take into consideration about the realization of a fact that information alone is not enough to transform you into the conscious person you want to see in yourself.

You begin to realize that life, indeed, is short. Everything is temporary and permanent, at the same time. What is going to come has already been happening a long time ago. What you’re experiencing in your life today someone else is going to experience the same in the future.

It’s like a cycle, all that you’re going to experience constitutes to what is both defined as beauty and temporariness. In that sense, one of the most beautiful things you can experience is to evolve. You will know that you are still on your way to discover something new about you.

It dawns upon you, as you went to reflect on your son’s childhood, that his childhood is no different than the one you had although it has to be different in many a way. But overall, it’s the same transformational process a person must undergo before everyone’s eyes and to remind them that time is, indeed, precious. You can only reflect on how your own father felt the same way about you as you took your journey to manhood.

You will be keeping in mind, too, just like what your own father may have done, that such a beautiful time, when you’re at the center of your son’s universe, won’t be forever. But you can only reminisce the time you were given such an awesome privilege and responsibility of raising children. There’s no way you can fail, if you’re a conscious parent, to appreciate such an opportunity offered before you.

This matter of natural hierarches and leadership

children
Hierarchies are a natural occurrence in the basic social structures like family, schools, and teams.

The moment your son is able to identify the persons he considered important in his life, interactions of groups and the formation of social hierarchies will be slowly comprehended and stored into his young mind for further processing and interpretation. One best way to accept and understand hierarchies, from a parental perspective, is to recognize their natural occurrence through basic social structures like family, schools, and teams. The child’s relationship to his parent is crucial to the development of such a kind of awareness that requires the child to totally submit to parental authority.

Which does not mean a parental dictatorship should be established also, depriving your child the freedom he deserves to enjoy, and leaving no room for him to make his own decisions and personal choices matter. But it is, rather, all about making your son recognize the fact that you have the final say in important matters, being the commander-in-chief of the family, and the one to make decisions regarding his well-being. Still, your child has every right to complain and explain whatever it is he thinks can be good or bad for him and you have to deal with that kind of thing like a true diplomat.

Once a parental authority is weakened or lost, it is difficult to gain it back. That’s why it is important to take every little opportunity seriously that contributes to the establishment of natural hierarchies. By simply allowing your child to have too much power to call the shots, you’re on your way to getting ignored or even ousted.

A child has the tendency, when you let him, to push boundaries further and further and it will take longer a time for you to bring his reasonable behavior back. As your child comes to like what his newly acquired power or control can do for him, he then experiments to try leveraging such a power for power’s sake. The outcome is easy to predict, learning from history in the politics of nations can also be true in how the family can function as a political unit, social chaos takes over when every interaction is marked by manipulation.

The importance of having a strong leadership in the family should not be taken lightly. Of course, it does not always mean, for a father trying to establish an authority figure, implementing strict rules, rigidity, and punishment. Leadership can be defined in many ways but, as a father who governs a family, it is about how you treat your own sons and daughters including your wife and the way you solve problems together.

It is about clearly supporting and articulating, through your words and actions, the values of the family. You have to consistently make your constituents feel your love and compassion. Most importantly, a good father and as a leader is one who has a positive attitude and conveys his belief in his sons and daughters without pressuring them.

Random thoughts on reading, storytelling and the expression of words

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This artwork my wife created has a thousand words for a story she can tell while our three-year-old son attentively listens.

I always felt encouraged to find a good book I can read to my three-year-old son. Reading a story is something that most people come to enjoy, and it’s interesting to know how such a simple act can benefit young children a lot. Normally, kid’s curiosity is one driving force for them to like to hear stories and its best when they can get them directly from their parents.

Storytelling, when done in a creative, interesting way so that young children will come to like it, can make their everyday experience as enriching as it can be because they will be introduced to a vast new range of things, ideas, and places. It is through such a way that we’re able to not only feed their natural thirst for knowledge, but as well to connect to them more strongly each time. It serves as the window to a world larger than their immediate environment.

Our most important thoughts and feelings can be likened to a black and white portrait of an unknown man hanging on the wall of a dilapidated building that’s going to be demolished, if we missed to paint them with words. Words give colors to our expressions, a glow. Words matter because they reflect our children’s emotional well-being as well as in holding the power to enhance it.

Reading is a habit that was, in itself, an essential exercise for the mind. It magnifies one’s vocabulary especially in young children by expanding the brain through multiplication of brain connections and neural pathways. Our kid’s ability to learn, enjoy, and effectively use language can be linked to how their auditory processing skills are working and the habit of reading is one way we can help them as they undergo such a particular stage of development. It has become, when we successfully instill such a love for reading upon our childen, an incredibly important part of the literacy equation.

Of all the things I’m addicted to do and getting routinely comfortable with, it was the habit of reading I found hardest to break. Of course, writing and reading is an inseparable pair so I had to include them both on the same spot. What became my most important passion today has actually just started as a pastime favorite in my preschool years.

It was my father who laid the groundwork for what will become my lifelong love affair with books. I wasn’t even reaching the age of five yet when I read, for the very first time, books my father has bought for me. They were introduced so very early into my life that I was already learning to read when I should have been busy spending my time playing games with peers.

I honestly did not instantly come to like the idea of reading books when it was first introduced to me. Back then, reading was one of those boring things I had to deal with patiently. But that was only temporary.

Books with an accompanying eye-catching illustration are truly captivating, while reading has become incredibly important as a primary way children learn about how people interact with each other and the way they react to a particular thing or issue. It adds to what will just describe reality. It continues to thrive and blossoms on me.

Keeping an eye on what matters

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THE EYE. A sketch I made using crayon pastels on a white bond paper.

A few days after Nathaniel turned three years old, I reflected on the way I have raised him and the many things I would be learning yet in the process as a parent. How was my relationship with my son going on? Have I done something heroic, worthy of recognition?

I am aware of the many things that can link me back to my child, my wife, and family. Just like what happened three years ago when he was born, I fell in love with him. Holding him in my arms for the first time, this lovely and mysterious creature patterned after my own, signaled the beginning of my exploration to the world of parenting.

This new role has given me the opportunity in acquiring a new layer of identity as I accept the challenge in taking care of this little soul who will come to know me as a parent. From that moment on, each passing day is about gathering the energy I will need to wake up more fully to life. I am aware of these wonderful things happening in my life.

But what did I actually know about parenting? Is there any specific method I need to know and apply it with my own child? How can I do the best possible job of meeting his individual needs while, at the same time, passing on the values I consider most important to him?

I am aware of this need of giving a new vision of parenting where both the parent and child can learn wisdom from each other as they come to experience strong connection together and to that which is greater than their own. It has to base from the special bond established between the parent and his child, so to speak. I can discover things I don’t already know about my son, if I keep my eyes open and on what matters.

Twenty important questions every parent must answer concerning his children

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Here’s an illustration to simply explain my own Theory of Connectivity.

Parenting is one of the most important jobs in the planet, notwithstanding the fact that it is also one of the most challenging. Parents shape the future of the world through these young generations of souls they were mentoring. It is the job of parents to help their children evolve into their fullest potentials and to serve their own purposes.

The art of raising motivated, responsible children should be understood as a continuity of the expression of the laws of the universe and that the parents themselves participate in such a cosmic order, whatever they can contribute, to what the universe is trying to do. In that sense, parenting is more than just the biological aspect of taking care of children but, in its highest form, to also participate in the creation of God and the laws governing it. Parents should be able to see and recognize the fact that we’re all coming from the same cosmic act of creation.

In nurturing kids, the parents should be able to find ways in channeling their children’s natural energy and curiosity into positive, motivated, and productive learning experiences. The connection that a parent can establish to his children is crucial to the expression of understanding their highest purpose. But how can one become a better parent? It is a good move on your part to evaluate yourself by starting to answer the following questions:

  • Will I be an encouraging parent to my children as they come to experience new things and explore the world?
  • Will I be supportive in their ability and freedom to think on their own?
  • How will I manage anger and conflict happening between them and me?
  • In what way will I be able to help validate my children’s way of thinking and perceptions?
  • Will I be able to mirror their communications clearly and turn them into a vehicle that leads to better understanding?
  •  In what way will I be able to help them get the freedom of being just themselves?
  • Can I be a good role model to them?
  • Can my children count me in to support their expression of feelings?
  • Will I be consistent in serving as a good role model to them?
  • Can I pay attention to their needs and answer each one of them?
  • In what way will I be able to connect to my children effectively?
  • How will I be able to deal well with failures and frustrations?
  • Will I be able to help them experience joy and the importance of having fun together?
  • Will I be able to successfully provide them with clear boundaries and to set limits that reinforce their sense of safety and support?
  • In what way will I be able to successfully convince them about the existence and worship of a God without pressuring them?
  • Will I be able to motivate them in a positive way?
  • In what way I’m going to make them feel my unconditional love for them?
  • How will I overcome my own fears?
  • How will I respond to criticisms?
  • How ready am I in letting go of my beloved children when all they want is independence and can stand on their own two feet?