Cognitive Training for Struggling Learners

Cognitive skills are inborn or innate skills gathering information from the senses: hearing, seeing, touch, smell, and taste and processes this information for knowledge or learning. The primary sources of input or taking in information, for academic purposes, are seeing and hearing. Cognitive skills also determine speed and accuracy in the learning process. For instance, how fluently a child reads and comprehends information seen and heard, or how quick and accurately a child can solve a word math problem. If a child has one or more weak cognitive skills learning is difficult, and the struggle to learn continues. If a child is distracted and cannot give attention to the instruction or task at hand learning will be blocked.

Therefore, it is evident that even one cognitive deficit can stop or hinder learning of any kind. However, the good news is that cognitive skills can be enhanced and developed with systematic training. The process of cognitive development involves neurons or connections in the brain creating branches or offshoots, as cognitive skills begin to grow and develop through stimulation and training an individual’s brain develops in cognitive areas including:

*attention,

*concentration,

* visual and auditory processing,

*long and short-term memory,

*visualization,

*visual memory,

*simultaneous and sequential processing,

* divided attention or ability to perform more than one task at a time

In addition, higher order skills derive from cognitive skills and include:

*logic and reasoning,

*problem solving,

*organizing,

*planning

Cognitive skills training can help any student who:

*works and/or reads slowly,

*cannot remember or recall information,

*cannot follow two or more instructions in succession,

*makes careless mistakes,

*experiences difficulty with letter-sound relationship (phonics)

Some children who struggle to learn make poor grades, but other children struggle to make good grades and keep up with their peers. The question needs to be asked, “Why is learning easier for one child, but difficult for another, when all the other contributing factors are equal and every educational resource is available to them? Cognitive skills deficits is most often the answer. Cognitive functions include how well an individual can:

* attend to information and instruction

* comprehend;

* concentrate on a task;

* follow a series of steps, such as a word math problem; and

* focus and keep attention in the midst of distractions

For instance, Jason and Daniel are 9 years old and in the same fourth grade class. Both students have a good home and opportunities to succeed. Similar characteristics of both children include normal intelligence, good classroom instruction, parental and teacher support, and good health. However, the boys perform extremely different at school.

Jason, is a highly motivated student, but works extra hard to keep his grades up to par with the rest of his class. He sacrifices enjoyable activities and time with friends and family to work hard, just to achieve average grades. At first glance, we would not think of Jason as having a learning disability, but he does. Daniel, wants to succeed as much as Jason. However, Daniel is failing to keep up with his class, lacks motivation, and continues down the road of frustration and failure each day. Which child has the disability Jason or Daniel? Most of us would quickly label Daniel as the child as having the serious learning disability. However, Jason is working extra hard staying one step away from disaster.and Daniel has stopped trying to learn. Both have learning deficits. A child should not be in either of these situations. Learning should and can be an enjoyable experience.