Students’ Problems

Speak Up, I’m An Auditory Learner

Auditory‘Sounds good to me’, ‘It’s starting to ring a bell’; these are a couple of the phrases used by roughly twenty per cent of the population that help to identify them as auditory learners.  Of course your little one may not be using such readily identifiable markers, but you may still be able to see qualities that help to give you an insight as to the type of learners they may be.

An auditory learner enjoys movies and music and probably notices the sound effects in movies more than other people.  They will readily put up their hands for discussion, happily participate in discussion groups and be involved in discussions without a group as they use self-talk.  These students are not afraid to speak in class and may be accused of speaking in class as they process the information through self-talk.

They will perform their worst at reading passages and writing answers relating to those passages in a timed test, but excel in responding to what they have heard and in oral exams.

The auditory learner learns best when reading aloud, receiving verbal instruction, repeating facts with eyes closed and memorising steps and procedures by repeating them.  Older auditory learners need some external sounds (T.V. or music) while they are reading their notes or processing their homework.  Writing their notes and recording them to listen to later is their best way of obtaining and retaining information.

Remember, looking out of the window while the teacher is talking does not necessarily mean they are not completely aware of what is being said.  Auditory learners do not require a visual context in order to learn.

I Can See Clearly Now, You Are A Visual Learner

visual“Let’s look at this differently”, “I can’t see the big picture”, “See how this works?” – stand back here comes a visual learner and a future artist, builder, inventor or musician, that is if they can get through our education system.

These right hemi-sphere thinking (that’s creative thinking) students are not wired to produce written reports on the thoughts they visualise in their mind, at least not until they learn how. They think and learn in multi-dimensional images. Our education system is more geared to teach left hemi-sphere thinking auditory learners who think and learn in words rather than images.

A visual-spatial learner may be good at spelling and lousy with names, needs a quiet study time, likes colour and is good with charts, maps and diagrams. They remember pictures and are good with direction. They will always have trouble remembering verbal instructions and have to learn by taking notes.

As a parent you can help by explaining a project you wish them to do by explaining why you want them do something, because they need to see the big picture first.

Look At Me! Look At Me! I’m A Kinaesthetic Learner!

"I know you want to use it, I'll have it back together in a minute."Type ‘student’ into clip art and you have fifty-one pages of cartoon pupils sitting quietly at their desk diligently working away.  DREAM ON! We know all students are not alike because all children are not alike.  In a (teacher’s) perfect world all students would be just so, but …approximately 15% of the population are kinaesthetic learners and that means there will be no such thing as a quiet classroom.  Kinaesthetic learners just want to touch and feel everything.  Their friends are bruised because these learners have to thump their mates.  Their homes are a mess because they have to pull everything apart, just to see how it works. Does that sound like someone you married?

You can picture this in your husband, but how about your little one? How do you know you have a kinaesthetic learner on your hands?  Well for starters their teacher will probably be calling you in to complain about how disruptive they are in class.  This student finds it difficult to learn through reading and writing.  They need the hands on approach so they do better in chemistry experiments, sports and acting. They may not even be aware of their own movement and are easily distracted by the movements of others.

By the age of 6½ they are generally classed as under-achievers or worse still hyperactive.

What can you do with this learner?  For starters accept them for who they are.  There is nothing wrong with them rather it is our education system that is not geared to accept 15% of the population.  As a parent, give them down time after an active session, and reward them for the tasks they perform.  These guys may be reward driven. Kinaesthetics learn best with images so paint them a picture of what you want from them. (For more information visit

When Words Are Not Heard Concepts Are Not Learned

Mother and Daughter Reading Together “What then of children who come from homes where no-one hears Mother Goose, where no-one is encouraged to read signs, write scribbly letters, or play with books of any kind?….What happens to them as they enter kindergarten has serious consequences for the rest of their lives – for them and for all of us.”

Though they may not be able to read by the age of five (and we should have no expectation of this) there is no reason for not sitting a child on your lap and reading to them.  Let them see the words and the pictures as you read them.  They may, or may not, develop at their own pace as they link the symbols of the word with the symbol of the picture.  Just remember, if they don’t they just may not yet be ready so let them be children.

Spending this quality time with your toddler is crucial to early childhood development.  Andre Biemiller, a Canadian psychologist, studied the consequences of lower vocabulary levels in young children.  The results of his studies indicated that children entering kindergarten in the bottom 25% of vocabulary generally remained behind the other children.  By year six they were approximately three years behind their peers in vocabulary, reading and comprehension.

 Let The Things Before School Be Play

Baby ReadingAre there things you can do to help your prodigy to become a person who thirsts for knowledge?

Lately I have been reading a book, “Proust and the Squid’ by Maryanne Wolf which addresses this question.  I would like to share some information with you.

 “The more children are spoken to, the more they will understand oral language.  The more children are read to the more they understand all the language around them, and the more developed their vocabulary becomes.”

“… many efforts to teach a child to read before four or five years of age are biologically precipitate and potentially counterproductive for many children.”  The reason for this is the myelin sheath (fatty coating around nerves to help electrical information to flow) in the angular gyrus (that part of the brain related to language, number processing, spatial cognition, memory and attention) is not sufficiently developed until five to seven years of age.  It develops in all children at different rates and in girls faster than boys.

Sometimes your five year old is just not ready for school and your young lad may not be ready until seven years of age.  By that time they are in year two or three and maybe well behind at school.  It is not that they cannot learn, it is just their brain was not ready for them to learn.  They can catch up, but by this time they may need some assistance

Food For Thought About Learning Difficulties

Diet PlansI don’t know where this statistic arises from but I read that about 5% of public school children suffer from a learning disability.

The difficulties experienced by students include language, reading and mathematics. At times social skill, emotional and behavioural problems are associated with learning disabilities. As a parent what can you do?

There are many services available to help parents with children who have learning difficulties but, according to Henry Osieki [B.Sc. (Hons.) & Grad. Dip. Nutrition and Dietetics], one of the prime causes is malnutrition. He suggests certain factors as possible causes to learning disorders include:

Heavy metal toxicity – in the past lead toxicity has been associated with learning problems.

Nutritional Deficiencies – The most common nutrients associated with difficulties with learning are B-vitamins, iron, iodine, magnesium, and zinc. This can be linked directly to a poor diet. Here is an example diet for you to consider:

  • Breakfast – bowl of low nutrient cereal; or nothing (because the parent has not prepared a breakfast for their child).
  • Morning tea – nothing.
  • Lunch – hot dog and can of soft drink; or nothing.
  • Afternoon tea – junk food purchased from local shop on the way home or nothing as both parents work.
  • Dinner – sausages, vegetables and gravy with ice cream for dessert.

A child of any age is growing pretty rapidly and is in need of food for energy and nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) to help supply the body with the building blocks to allow the cells to multiply and the body to grow. If the dinner from the above example was to become the breakfast you would have an alert, bright student sitting in the class until about lunch time.

Impaired hearing – inner ear infections or inflammation of the ear drum from allergies will hamper the early learning stages of pre-schoolers. I am talking about your toddler here who is doing their best to learn a language so they may communicate with the world. Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to ear infections at this stage. Image the problems caused with learning a language when a child hears only the first part of a word the first time and the last part the next time. To them they are hearing two separate words relating to the same subject.

Osieki states that dyslexic children tend to have a higher concentration of copper in sweat and hair and this may be reduced by taking zinc and vitamin C.

Nutritional consideration to help your youngster to learn:

  • Most importantly is a healthy diet. Keep the crunchy low nutrient junk foods to a minimum. Remember who the parent is here.
  • A child’s dose multi vitamin/mineral if the diet is inadequate.
  • If you think your child is dyslexic then perhaps some zinc and vitamin C. (Always follow the recommended dose for age).
  • If inner ear inflammation is a continual problem then consider testing for food allergies.

Sports People Do It, Why Not Students?

AchievementQuite often students begin the year in a casual stride and who is to blame them? After all they have just come off two months holidays.

I come from a sports training background and I can tell you that an athlete who wants to perform well will not take two months off their training year. The repercussions are too great as they will lose too much form and have to work too hard to get back to square one.

A dedicated rugby player who takes one month off during the off season will be maintaining their aerobic level of fitness with moderate exercise. When January comes around they are ready to start full swing on improving their strengths, building on fitness and working on skills. That is how you stay ahead of the pack.

I often wonder why students don’t undertake the same planning when it comes to academic performance. Most students and parents of students are willing to let the achievements of the final months of the previous year disappear through resting the brain after the school year. The brain does not need that much time to recover. In fact that length of time for recovery is detrimental. The last month of knowledge learned prior to exams has been lost and has to be relearned in the first month of the new year!

During long Christmas holidays many students maintained their academic conditioning by attending my tuition sessions. Some used this tim to work on their weaknesses from last year while others used the time to get a head start on the subject matter they knew was coming this year. These guys were staying ahead of the pack. Is it worthwhile? You bet it is. They will go into the new year confident and stress free. They have locked in with their coach who is helping them to perform at their peak.

We live in a very competitive world and those who rise to the top are those who are willing to go the extra mile to achieve that result. I see all too often time and effort put into young people with their sport but will that effort bring a return on investment for them? Will these skills bring them an income? Most likely not. If the same effort was put into their academic ability, or at least more evenly distributed well……

 The Eyes Have It When 5+1=5

Eye TrackingSome students are behind at school through no fault of their own. They look at the work and do not understand what is going on.

They ask themselves “Why am I the only person in this class who doesn’t get this?” Eventually they begin to believe “I must be a real dummy I just don’t understand why I keep getting this wrong!” Their self-confidence disintegrates and at times their behaviour will follow. After all “What is the point of turning up every day if I can’t learn this?”

What is happening with this student? What would happen if you saw the number zero as a one? For one thing sometimes five plus one will equal six and other times it will equal five. If you are in primary school and just learning about numbers and maths these things will make it confusing. You won’t understand why sometimes ten is ten and sometimes it is eleven. Everything will become an exercise in guess-work for you.

These students will also have trouble seeing decimal points, and fractions are just another language when your eyes skip over the line between the numerator and denominator.

That’s just maths. When they read “was” it becomes “saw” and whole lines are skipped because the eyes didn’t see the line to read it. By the time they are Year 7 their reading comprehension is extremely low and there are gaps in their mathematics because fractions and decimals don’t exist.

Eye Tracking issues occur when the two eyes do not move smoothly and accurately across a line or from word to word. The student will often lose their place while reading, skip lines, misread short words as in “was” and “saw” and cut off the beginnings and endings of words.

Eye tracking issues are usually corrected by visiting a Behavioural Optometrist who tests for the condition and prescribes glasses that are worn until the condition is corrected. Normal optometrists do not usually check or test for this condition so if your student has glasses and their school work has not improved it may be time to visit the specialist.

 I Almost Forgot To Tell You To Remember

Student 3“I just don’t get this!” is a cry for help from a student of any age. Here is the first thing about the learning process – if you don’t get it you won’t remember it and you won’t learn it. A student must understand a concept, in their own words, to be able to learn it.

So the first step to learning something effectively is to understand it. If you do not understand it ask your teacher or instructor to explain it another way. You will not be the only person not understanding and it is your teacher’s job to see that you do understand.

Once you think you understand it then write it out in your own words, this will help to put it into short-term memory. Now this might require the old-fashioned pen and paper rather than a laptop. This is where most students stop and then wonder why they cannot remember material. Short term is good for a few minutes, hours or days, after that it is gone. You have to take the next step to move it into long-term memory.

Recitation (saying something over and over again) has been proved to be the most effective way of placing information into long-term memory. And by long-term I am talking about a life time. Reading something quietly over and over again to yourself or writing it down a number of times is not as effective as reading the material, in your own words, over and over again ALOUD.


There are five essential nutrients for effective brain function, and this includes memory. Many teenagers are low in iodine, as can be said about the general population. It is readily found in some seafood but if you do not eat seafood then you must obtain it from another source.

Decades ago the government placed iodine in table salt so that inland populations may have a non-seafood source of the nutrient. If your family eats salt then it may be beneficial to purchase iodised salt. Other nutrients are omega-3 (from oily fish), iron (meat), zinc (almonds) and the B vitamins.

Two herbs gaining respect for their ability to aid memory are Ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. Ginkgo increases blood flow and fluidity to the brain. Improved circulation aides brain function.

The quality of food is so important. We do no good for our children when we give into their tantrums for low nutrient junk food. Be parents to your children now and their friends when they grow up.

Keeping Your Student’s Motor Running

Empty Gas TankYour car will not run without fuel, and neither will your body, including your brain. Too often the last decent meal a student has before they attend a tuition centre after school is breakfast – and it shows.

The inability to concentrate, feeling listless, unenthusiastic and headaches are all signs of insufficient nutrient intake. The body begins to slow down by mid-afternoon after a day of high activity and very little nutritious food.

The best way to maintain high-energy output is to ensure a nutritious breakfast, a healthy lunch and perhaps morning and afternoon tea. A healthy round of vegemite sandwiches with a glass of water or milk will ensure the B Vitamins for energy production are in the body to spur the brain into motion.

The Importance of Nutrients And Study

Kinaesthetic learner, Attention Deficit Disorder or hyperactivity, it doesn’t necessarily help the situation when you have a name for a particular behaviour. In fact some people resign from any responsibility for their actions when they are labelled. The problem is what can be done?

According to Henry Osiecki (B.Sc. Grad. Dip Nutr. & Dietetics) some symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiencies. Behavioural and learning problems, tantrums and sleeping disorders are common to both. Supplementing with omega 3 has been shown to improve learning and concentration behaviour.

Other Nutritional Deficiencies in Learning – if your diet is inadequate then consider a quality multi-vitamin.

B Complex – The functions of the B vitamins in mental alertness and energy are well established.

EFA – Omega 3 & Omega 6 – Introducing fish oil into a youngster’s diet may do wonders for concentration.

Zinc – The functions of zinc and the immune system have been known for over 100 years. Knowledge of its other functions is relatively recent. Low levels of zinc are associated with low alertness, inability to think along abstract lines (learning a language e.g. English), mood and memory problems.


Magnesium is one of the most deficient minerals in the modern western diet. Low brain magnesium gives un-refreshed sleep, causes easy fatigue (important for the Krebs cycle of energy production), poor concentration and daytime sleepiness.

How Important Is Handwriting?

HandwritingDoes handwriting matter?  Not very much according to educators.  The Common Core standards, which we have adopted in most states, call for teaching legible handwriting, but only in kindergarten and first grade.  After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.”

“What’s Lost As Handwriting Fades” – by Maria Konnikova

I have just finished reading this article and you can follow the above link to access it.  The article suggests evidence is emerging of a greater link between handwriting and learning.  It appears children learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand.

A 2012 study by Karin James at the Indiana University supported the association between handwriting and learning.  Children who had not learned to read were presented with index cards with a letter or shape they were to reproduce.  They could either:

  • Trace the image on a page with a dotted outline;
  • Draw it on a blank sheet of paper;
  • Type it on a computer.

A study of their brain waves as they reproduced the shape or letter showed an area of the brain, active when an adult reads and writes, was highly stimulated when the child drew the letter on a blank sheet of paper.  The activation was significantly weaker through the other two processes.

Learning is a complicated process.  When we reproduce letters, or anything else, by hand a plan is required before executing the action.  The end result is highly variable in that it will not exactly represent the original.  Learning to identify variable representations is important to decoding letters when reading.

The research by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at University of Washington, indicated that when a child who composed text by hand (either printing or cursive) “They not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on the keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

There is also a suggestion of different neuro-pathways being developed in the brain when a child progresses on from printing to cursive writing.

Research at the University of California have reported laboratory and real-world studies of students learning better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.

So is it time to throw away the pen and paper and adopt the technology and the keyboard?  Was it time to give up walking when we invented the car?

One response to “Students’ Problems

  1. Pingback: ‘D’ is for Don’t Give Up | XtraMile Tuition Strategies - 0451 030188

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