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NU #028 - The Building Blocks of Learning & Why They Matter Now More Than Ever

The number of kids who struggle with learning difficulties continues to climb & more families are finding themselves at a loss with what to do about their child. I hope the ideas here might shed some light on why I think we're spending too much time working on the wrong things - for some of our kids.


This Building Blocks graphic (at the bottom of this article) is the best one that I have seen - which is why I am constantly referring to it. I will try to convey my approach to supporting kids in a simple & concise manner here because I know it can feel complicated. This graphic is a helpful tool in doing this.




I love this graphic because it clearly illustrates one of the most misunderstood aspects of learning - or learning difficulties - from the parent perspective. I speak with many parents who are worried about their child's ability to learn, but then don’t know how to access the right type of support.


Fact: Most parents have the perception that their child needs help with Reading, Writing & Math Problem Solving. Therefore, this means that we should spend the bulk of our effort working in the Conceptual Block ( Executive Functions, Verbal & Non Verbal)


Truth: Most kids who struggle with Reading, Writing & Math Problem Solving need intense intervention in the areas underneath The Conceptual Block. More specifically, we need to work in the Foundational Block & the Processing Block. The additional training here in Motor, Memory, Efficiency, Automaticity, etc… leads to better skill with Decoding, Encoding, Calculating & Handwriting. Which, in turn, leads to increased skill in Reading, Writing & Math Problem Solving.


Here’s the usual progression:


You can’t learn to read if you can’t decode or encode.

You’ll continue to struggle in writing if you don’t improve your gross motor & fine motor function.

You’ll struggle with math problem solving if you don’t work on memory - short term & processing.


Therefore, it becomes apparent that it’s far better to work to build the skills in the Processing Block - in order to eventually improve the areas in the Conceptual Block.

Many interventions (or tutors) focus exclusively on boosting the Conceptual Area #4 - with rote learning & repetitive learning. They feel this is the area worth investing in because it’s typically where Reading, Writing & Math Problem Solving are happening. Most kids do not need more of the same - they need different.


In my work with kids, I prefer to concentrate on all the areas that lead up to success in Reading, Writing & Math. These building blocks are often overlooked or worse, misunderstood.


Parents will often invest in a psychological assessment for their child because the school is not equipped to effectively support their child. Once completed, the psychologist will list many, many pages of recommendations. In many cases, these recommendations are built around these Building blocks of Learning - the Foundational skills which allow learning to happen.


For many parents, the idea of implementing recommendations from a psychologist is overwhelming & intimidating. Many parents do not have the time, skill or expertise to do this. Here’s where I come in.


Massive gains in learning can happen if we spend the time to develop the right intervention program for a specific child. This is why I believe in spending time, energy & effort in developing the skills contained within those other building blocks - Foundational & Processing - before we get to Conceptual.


Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about how I can support your child.







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