In terms of forgetting, learning problems might be evidenced when a child studies all night and then fails a spelling test. In this case, there may be problems in the child’s long-term memory or background knowledge. With regard to slow pacing, it may be that the child has a cognitive deficit such as slow processing speed or a learning disability. Finally, the child may have an issue with achievement, which means getting low grades and failing exams. This could stem from: intelligence, motivation, study skills, or self-esteem.
In addition to issues of memory, pacing, and achievement; some children will have cognitive problems that impact learning. Cognitive skills are measured on IQ tests and the various sub-scales of IQ tests tend to predict performance in different academic subjects. Verbal IQ looks at your child’s vocabulary, knowledge for information, understanding of categories and synonyms, and comprehension of words and stories. In terms of learning, Verbal IQ is a good predictor of your child’s ability to read, write, understand and use language. Because reading and writing is required for almost all aspects of academics, a child with low Verbal IQ is likely to struggle in school. Non-Verbal IQ is basically visual problem solving. In terms of learning, Non-Verbal IQ can often predict performance in math, geography, science, and engineering. Finally IQ also measures cognitive proficiency, how your memory works and how quickly you process information. If your child has lower scores in some aspects of IQ, even just those related to processing, there could be academic struggles.
Sometimes children with solid to advanced IQ scores have challenges with learning too. Learning challenges may impact school performance in one or many subjects. Your child may struggle to decode words, to read at a steady pace, to comprehend reading material, to spell or encode information, to write sentences or an essay with appropriate organization and content, to calculate math facts, to solve word problems, or to visualize math in terms of geometry or fractions. Your child may struggle in just one aspect of learning, or perhaps a few are very challenging. When children struggle with learning, we often need to consider whether a child processes information differently in the brain, impacting learning. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia are challenges with reading, writing and math that are related to struggles with encoding, decoding, visual processing, phonological processing, working memory or long term memory. In school these challenges are called Specific Learning Disabilities in a clinical setting they are often referred to as Disorder of Reading, Disorder of Mathematics or Disorder of Written Expression (in accordance with the DSM-5). All of these terms capture learning challenges that are significant enough to warrant extra support and tutoring. In this section you will learn more about these challenges.