Understanding Learning Difficulties In Children & How To Support Them

As children grow and develop vital life skills, such as how to speak and read, some children find it more challenging to learn than others. We’ve put together a guide to help you better understand learning difficulties and how you can support your child.

children learning disorders

What's a learning difficulty?

The first thing we need to establish is, what is a learning difficulty? There are many types of learning difficulties, but put simply, they affect the way a child or person learns and understands new things throughout their lifetime. Some of the most common in children include dyslexia, ADHD, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

Signs of learning difficulties in children

While the signs of learning difficulties are not always black and white, there are certain signs that suggest your child may benefit from additional support.

If your child is young, the signs include:

  • They’re not taking in common phrases by the age of 2 and a half.
  • They don’t speak very clearly at age 3.
  • They’re struggling to learn letters and colours.
  • Your child struggles to button their clothing and use scissors accurately.
  • Your child is between the ages of three and five and can’t sit calmly through a short story.

If your child is a pre-teen or a teenager, the signs include:

  • They struggle to follow directions.
  • Your child finds it difficult to remember information.
  • They find it hard to read and spell.
  • They struggle to concentrate both in school and at home.
  • Your child finds it challenging to carry out maths calculations.

The next steps

If you’re beginning to notice the above signs in your child, then it’s time to talk to your child’s teacher about any learning difficulties and their behaviour and progress in school. It’s also important to speak to your child’s doctor, who could refer your child to a specialist if necessary.

How can you, as a parent, support your child?

Engage in tutoring

One of the steps you as a parent can take is engage in tutoring to assist your child with learning difficulties. If you don’t observe positive changes after 6 months, then a referral to a psychologist for a diagnosis should be considered.

Develop your child’s social skills

It’s common for children with learning difficulties to withdraw from their peers, so we suggest you help your child by acknowledging that learning is more challenging for them as their brain understands things in a different way. Encourage your child to take part in after-school clubs and activities that will help them form friendships and build confidence.

Reach out to support groups

Learning difficulties are fairly common – you and your child are not alone, nor should you feel that way. For this reason, we suggest reaching out and speaking to support groups to help you learn more about the ways in which you could support your child.

Begin planning for the future

You can prepare your child for adulthood by helping them realise their strengths, aspirations, and ambitions. Remind them that children with learning difficulties can also grow up to find a career they love and be very successful at.

If you would like to consult with a child psychologist in Darwin, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert and friendly team at Stepping Stones In Life Therapy Service by giving us a call on (08) 8985 6067.

Alternatively, send an email to admin@steppingstonestherapy.com.au for more information on learning difficulties in children and the ways in which you can support them.


Picture of Barbara Kapser

Barbara Kapser

Barbara Kapser is our psychologist at Stepping Stones in Life Therapy Service in Darwin. She's a member with the Australian Psychological Society and the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health.
She specialises in perinatal infant mental health, attachment disorders, developmental trauma and behaviour support.