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For children who struggle academically – whether through widely recognised conditions like dyslexia, or lesser known ones such as Auditory Processing Disorder – their time at school can often seem frustrating and unfulfilling. Teaching styles are highly generalised as the majority of comprehensive institutions simply do not have the resources to give each child the learning experience that most compliments their individual difficulty and learning style.

Schools do, of course, recognise when a child is struggling and additional learning support is often supplied. However, this help can usually only be provided for a few hours per week, and such help may only emphasis to the child that they are different, that they are less capable, which in the long term can lead to the child losing confidence in their own capabilities. For this reason it is essential that children are made aware of other skills they possess as early as possible in their educational development, ideally before they leave primary school.

Discovering a new skill or ability is one of the best ways to ensure a child is able to enjoy their time in school. Although the principal focus of teaching is academic, the vast majority of primary and secondary schools also have departments that focus on ‘non-academic’ skills such as music or art. These subjects are often more flexible in how they are taught and assessed because they cover a much broader range of abilities then purely academic subjects like Maths and English. For example, in Music you focus not only on playing one of a broad range of instruments, but also singing, composition, and music production. Art offers an equally diverse selection of possibilities, from painting to sculpture to graphic design.

The ‘creative arts’, such as Music and Art, will of course help develop a child’s creativity, but have also been shown to help cultivate further abilities, namely co-ordination and concentration. As a child begins to explore their own capabilities they will recognise where their personal skills lie, which in turn will help develop confidence. Self-confidence is one of the most valuable traits any child acquires, but is perhaps even more important for children who struggle through with learning problems as they are so defined by this.

One way to ‘ease’ a child into a new subject – especially if they lack confidence – is to invest in some outside tuition. This method of teaching has a number of benefits. In the first instance tutoring can provide the basic knowledge required to stimulate interest. Many children find tutors less intimidating. The greatest value in tuition, however, is of course the one-to-one nature. As a tutor is hired to work one-on-one with your child, specialised learning techniques designed to help those with learning difficulties can be provided.

Music, art, drama and dance can all be utilised to encourage confidence in young children, but remember! If the child feels obliged to carry out the activity it will soon become as monotonous and unfulfilling as the academic tasks they struggled with in the first place. For this reason the most vital aspect of introducing your child to a new subject or activity is to ensure they find one they enjoy!


Isabel Monroe is a free-lance writer and tutor for First Tutors. In addition to academic tutoring First Tutors also runs a sister websites in niche subjects such as Music, Dance and Arts & Crafts.