CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
School can be exhausting for children and it is even more difficult for children with learning difficulties. Having lessons every day where they are being bombarded with information can be too tiring for a young child. Knowing that children naturally have a shorter attention span and are easily distracted, at a certain point after long hours of learning, their attention will wane, and they will eventually lose interest and focus.
Giving them a break from school work and lessons is important. It is good to let them engage in non-academic activities. Given that they face difficulties in academe, co-curricular activities can be their avenue to unleash the hidden potential within them. Orlando Bloom, Walt Disney, Keira Knightley, Michael Phelps, Steven Spielberg… These are just some notable people who grew up with learning difficulties but are successful in different fields such as theater, music and sports.
To help your child, especially for those who have learning difficulties, to de-stress from school and explore fields outside the academe, here are some activities that they may enjoy and at the same time can be beneficial for their growth:
Who doesn’t love Music? Music is a universal language. Its’ effect on us is unexplainably beautiful and it sets our mood. Research have shown that people who learn music tend to have improved executive functioning skills, which is an area that children with ADHD often struggle with (Csillag, 2015). So in a way, learning music is constructive and therapeutic for children with ADHD.
While it may be difficult for children with dyslexia to learn music since they often struggle to make sense of the musical notes, researchers argue that it can, instead, be helpful for them. Not only is learning music a fun and more relaxed way of listening to and producing changes in sound, it can also improve the child’s ability to process speech sounds as children with dyslexia often struggle with creating the connection between the sound of the word with the actual word itself (Kelly, 2018). Helping them to consciously create that sound-word connection and continuously reinforcing it can help build the child’s reading skills and improve their phonemic awareness (Kelly, 2018).
Learning music doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of singing. You can allow them to explore playing different kinds of instruments – guitar, piano, drums, violin, as well as song composition
Sports is always a fun activity to engage in after a long day at school because all children love to run around and play. Researchers argue that sports is beneficial for children with learning difficulties because it develops their sense of engagement, their ability to follow instructions and their capacity to perform a task. Research have also shown that engaging in sports instil a level of discipline in the child, which reduces the behavioural symptoms that are commonly associated with children with ADHD. This reduction in behavioural symptoms can then allow them to better concentrate during lessons and exhibit better academic performance (Csillag, 2015).
- Visual Arts
Allowing your child to practise in visual arts is another avenue as well. It represents one more way for them to communicate effectively whatever it is that they struggle to express because of their condition. It is also another way for them to unleash their creativity and to hone their creative thinking skill, a skill that many children with learning difficulties struggle to learn as their brains view things linearly and figuratively, as such, they struggles to come up with ideas that requires them to think out-of-the-box.
Activities such as painting, and colouring are often used as therapeutic measures to help children with autism manage their emotions and to channel it into a different outlet. Moreover, thinking visually is a strength that many children with learning difficulties possess. Being able to express themselves with visual work rather than written work can be a confidence booster for them (Csillag, 2015).
School environment can be competitive and very challenging for children, especially those with learning difficulties, to keep up. Providing them with co-curricular activities is one way for them to explore their hidden talents and unleash their potential. They may not excel academically but if they are able to discover something that they love doing and are good in it, it builds their self-esteem and allows them to grow to be confident young people.
Csillag, J. (2015, August 3). 5 Extracurriculars That Are Great for Kids with Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from Noodle: https://www.noodle.com/articles/5-extracurriculars-that-are-great-for-kids-with-learning-disabilities
Kelly, K. (2018, December 16). FAQs About Dyslexia and Learning Music. Retrieved from Understood: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/dyslexia-and-music