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In summer, most youngsters scarcely want to think about school – but for some, the season presents an important opportunity to solve or start solving educational problems.

If your child experienced a difficult academic year and frequently complained about homework, struggled to complete tests in a timely manner or just outright hated school, parents, summer makes an excellent time for improvement. Consider consulting an educational professional – a psychologist, say, or a learning specialist – to determine if your child learns “differently” from other children or suffers from an attention deficit.

A learning disability constitutes a specific problem that affects how a person processes, understands and uses information. Everyone has learning strengths and weaknesses, but people with disabilities in learning may suffer from complex neurological issues that persist throughout their lives. Adding to the challenge of this issue, educational difficulties can surface at any age and in manifold ways.

During the preschool years, language complications such as acquisition difficulties or pronunciation problems can signify a learning issue. Some young students also may struggle with coordination and finger use. If any area of your child’s development feels delayed, again, consult an educational professional to determine the necessity of an early intervention.

As children enter the elementary years, subject-area concerns often grow more prominent. Students with learning disabilities may master specific skills yet have difficulty grasping certain concepts. Frequent reading errors, constant misspellings or atypical troubles with basic math can indicate learning issues. In addition, some children may experience social struggles and communication problems, which can further affect knowledge acquisition.

For a small group of students, learning difficulties may go unnoticed until middle or high school. For them, classes become more challenging as they engage in higher-order thinking tasks such as comparing concepts, linking previously taught ideas to new material and understanding complex relationships. Many also struggle to hold complex information in short-term memory and execute multistep tasks.

With older students, admittedly, it also can be tough at times to sort typical teen distractions from true learning issues. Some teens struggle with classroom attention and avoid homework because they just lack the motivation to learn algebra or read Shakespeare. Others, unfortunately, invest extraordinary effort but still experience low grades. Therefore, to provide parental assistance, review your child’s homework and look for unusual sequencing, overly sloppy work or excessively long completion times. Also, check on your child’s emotional state; school anxiety or a confidence crisis often can result from an undetected learning issue.

It can upset parents to consider that their child may learn differently. If you suspect your own child has a learning issue, parents, have him or her assessed by an experienced professional. Don’t adopt a wait-and-see approach; consider a summer evaluation to best prepare your child for the upcoming school year.

Despite the carefree nature of the season, in matters as imperative as potential learning issues, there really is no time like the present.

Prior to going into private practice as a psychotherapist and learning-disabilities specialist, Russell Hyken, Ph.D., Ed.S., M.A., LPC, NCC, worked for more than 15 years as an English teacher, school counselor and school administrator. Visit him online at ed-psy.com.

Prior to going into private practice as a psychotherapist and learning-disabilities specialist, Russell Hyken, Ph.D., Ed.S., M.A., LPC, NCC, worked for more than 15 years as an English teacher, school counselor and school administrator.

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