As a parent, are you in the loop of learning disability?

In India, education is very competitive anParents-helping-childd as a parent, you are naturally keen for your child to achieve.

However, have you paused to ponder why the Bollywood movie Taare Zameen Par tries to capture the kind of pressure parents can place on their children, when they underperform? While the intentions are all in place to help the child, parental pressure often works in the opposite direction – making the child defiant, depressed or simply give up. Add learning disability to the child’s challenges, and schools, parents and society unwittingly contribute to academic and personal failures for the child, that continue in adulthood.

On the other end of the continuum for a child with learning disability are parents who may not get too involved with the child’s academic failures or behavioural issues arising out of this condition. Such parents hope their child will get in line with her peers sooner or later, to join the higher educator bandwagon.

There is an ongoing debate on making more stringent, class IX and X summative assessments in schools that follow a national educational board curriculum (see media report). Irrespective of how this debate concludes, a more holistic, flexible and year-round evaluation of learning is appreciable and a move towards more meaningful learning (and away from end-of-the-year rote learning). However, this means that difficulties in reading, writing and spelling, that constitute the bulk of learning disabilities, may get hidden from the view of parents and school professionals, that much more. As a result, today it may be that much more challenging to detect learning difficulties and disabilities in school children, compared to earlier and learning difficulties may come to focus only at a point where a student appears for class XII Board Examinations, on the threshold of higher education. Unfortunately, by this time, the student has already passed well through her formative years and those with undiagnosed learning disabilities will likely show poor academic outcomes in higher education, or worse, not make it through school at all.

The onus of knowing and taking the right action, at the right time, is shared by parents and schools, who together constitute the child’s social and academic environment in fundamental ways, during those growing years.

Tell us something: Are schools in India making adequate efforts to educate you, as a parent, about learning disabilities? Please take our opinion poll and know what other professionals and parents are thinking.

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