Learning Disabilities and the Arts

Have you ever thought about how the Arts can open the doorway to your child’s learning?

If your child is diagnosed with a learning disability (LD), it can be very frustrating and confusing for them, their parents and their teachers.  Why?  Learning disabilities are often complex and confusing issues, because the term learning disability has different meanings.  A person with LD can have problems with different skills used for learning, like in areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, doing math and reasoning because of the way their brain processes the information.

People often get confused that a person with an LD are not as smart as them, but really a person diagnosed with a learning disability is just as smart or smarter than their peers.  While they have difficult in mastering reading, writing, etc they often excel in the arts.

For children participating in the arts can be fun, but for children with a learning disability it can also be a very useful way to teach them.

Creative Teaching and Learning

The arts are intellectual disciplines; that require complex thinking and problem solving skills.  Learning through the arts offers children important opportunties to construct their own understanding of the world, while at the same time utilizing their strengths.  Traditional teaching often requires children with LD to expand their understanding, by calling on their weaknesses, which can be very overwelming and frustrating.  For children who may struggle academically and behaviorially, they may excel in creative expression.  This is true for my son.  He struggles often with counting or shapes, but when you put music on he can perform and sing, and use his mind in such an imaginary way that may be hard for people who are academic achievers.

However, there are many benefits of teaching through the arts, that help children develop cognitive skills they may otherwise struggle with.  For example:

  • Drawing and painting develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.  But it can also teach your child with math as it helps them to understand spatial relationships, shapes and sizes.  It can also help them to understand the basics of colors.
  • Music is a great way to teach them rhythm, sound and pitch and teaching them to use beats and rhymes are excellent pre-reading skills.
  • Dance and movement are good way to teach children about sequencing, rhythm, counting and following directions, but it also helps with their coordination and motor control.
  • Drama helps to teach children with concepts and themes that build creativity and out of the box thinking, but it helps them to express the way they may understand or have learned something, but it also helps them to build confidence.

Parents and teachers have to use these different tools to help a child with a learning disability learn, grow and build self-worth.

Leave a comment