Emotional and behavioural factors
For a variety of reasons some children are naturally much more insecure than others at this early stage. There are many factors that will influence how a child adapts and responds to the learning environment. Inevitably, insecurity will affect the child’s learning, so it is important that the child settles as quickly as possible. If this does not appear to be happening, then close liaison with parents may be required to establish if there are factors that we need to be aware of, and take account of in teaching and supporting the child.
Children who are insecure soon become aware (either consciously or subconsciously) that they are not learning in the same way at the same pace as their peer group, and this may result in the child starting to feel “stupid” or worthless. The child may then exhibit “acting out” behaviours aimed at taking attention away from learning – clowning, “showing off”, annoying other children, or withdrawing and becoming isolated. If children’s behaviour is not diverted to other more constructive tasks and brought under control (preferably self-control) at an early stage, this can become a vicious downward cycle with lack of reward for good progress and behaviour impeding learning. It is important therefore to work with families on achieving success in some aspects of learning so that children see the rewards for their efforts as well as achievement. More detail on the types of behaviour that may be observed are considered under the three headings of Disappearing Strategies, Distracting Strategies and Disruptive Strategies in the glossary.
When considering dyslexia assessment, it is important to consider why the child is behaving in the way they are as this is not always obvious. Sometimes, it may be due to the frustrations the child feels when not learning as they feel they should, and seeing a gap between what they can do and what others can achieve seemingly without effort. It is important not to rule out dyslexia because of seemingly “bad behaviour” but to consider learning in a variety of contexts. If the child learns well at some times and not at others, or in some subject areas and not in literacy, and there is no clear reason for this, then consider the possibility of dyslexia.