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From ADHD to dyslexia: 5 common learning issues and how to help your child thrive

It is essential for parents to become experts in their children's learning issues so they can focus on their children's strengths rather than their vulnerabilities.

From ADHD to dyslexia: 5 common learning issues and how to help your child thrive

When a parent finds out their child has a learning issue, they can often feel overwhelmed, helpless and confused. Learning disabilities affect up to 20% of children in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Services, but that doesn't mean your child can't succeed.

It is essential for parents to become experts in their children's learning issues so they can focus on their children's strengths rather than their vulnerabilities. The first step is creating a plan with your child's doctor and any relevant specialists.

Here are some effective strategies for five common learning issues that parents can incorporate at home or at school to help their children thrive:

1. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that is also referred to as a reading disability. Dyslexic children have difficulty identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.

How to help: The use of audiobooks helps children listen to the story while they see the words. By pointing to the words while listening to the story, children incorporate a multi-sensory approach to reading using tactile, visual and auditory senses.

2. Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a math learning disability in which children often have difficulty understanding number-related concepts, mathematical reasoning or how to accurately use symbols or functions needed to figure out math facts and calculations.

How to help: Use calculators, rulers, fact charts and manipulatives to bridge understanding between the abstract and the concrete. A hands-on approach can help to close the gap between mathematical reasoning, problem-solving and accurate execution.

3. Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects written expression so children can have difficulty spelling, exhibit distorted or poor handwriting and have trouble putting their thoughts down on paper.

How to help: A talk-to-text device allows students to answer written responses without the arduous task of putting pen to paper. By removing the difficult task of handwriting from the assignment with assisted technology, it fosters the use of expanded sentences and detailed response. The use of word processing for class notes and in-class assignments is also beneficial once keyboarding skills are mastered.

4. Processing deficits

Processing deficits are problems with the ability to recognize and interpret information presented through visual and auditory channels. Children with processing deficits experience difficulty with visual and auditory perception.

How to help: Various accommodations and interventions can help them learn. They can benefit from hands-on activities to bring mental images to life so try providing auditory descriptions and details to formulate pictures of what is being discussed.

Have your children make pictures, create story maps as a means of cultivating visual problem-solving skills and watch movies that coincide with assigned literature. For example, when reading To Kill a Mockingbird, watch the movie and ask questions to help your child think critically, predict outcomes and compare and contrast.

5. ADHD

This stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and is often referred to as ADD in both children and adults. Common signs include difficulty paying attention, controlling their impulses or keeping still. ADHD can adversely affect children at home and at school impeding upon their relationships with their family and friends.

How to help: Attending to academic tasks can be extremely challenging. In order to help your children go from initiation to completion of tasks, create a workspace that is free of distractions. Provide headsets to block out surrounding noise, supervise your children while they do their homework, encourage breaks, allowing them to stretch and refocus, and provide positive reinforcement and rewards for staying on task.

With these learning issues, it is important for parents to take the time to explore how their children learn and which modality they should incorporate when their child is learning new concepts for the first time. At school, parents can ask teachers to provide direct instruction, break learning tasks into small steps, incorporate a multi-sensory approach using visual graphic organizers, and model specific strategies.

By incorporating some of the above strategies at home with their children, parents are well underway on helping their children with learning disabilities succeed.

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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