Making Academics Relevant
It doesn’t work this way for students with learning differences.
Struggling learners find it difficult to uncover academic purpose, especially when a task seems remote or irrelevant to them. Without sensing an innate connection to outside expectations, students with learning differences have a hard time making themselves complete, or even begin, required assignments and projects.
In order to feel committed to completing a particular academic task, struggling students need to understand how doing so will further their personal goals.
Fortunately, these 2 support options can motivate neurodiverse students, breathing life into otherwise tedious academic pursuits:
1. Mentorship can help students feel more engaged in academic tasks: The right coach understands what it means to be neurodiverse in an academic or professional setting, and has the curiosity and patience to listen and respond to the inner world of a struggling learner. They also help neurodiverse students understand how they benefit from learning to navigate academic, personal, and professional.
Struggling students often experience themselves on the outside of things. In group learning contexts, their attempts to contribute may go unnoticed, reinforcing a self-perception of invisibility. Their participation in academic settings may at times be trivialized by well-meaning learning communities that are not optimized to promote that student’s potential. Over time, a learner may internalize an inner narrative that they are just not cut out for school.
Students may first need to trust that the world is understanding them, before they are willing to understand and learn from a world outside themselves.
They may need to, for the first time, discover how playing by “the rules” can work to their advantage.
Academic coaches offer critical mentoring during pivotal moments in a young person’s life, helping them see how their values and perspectives have a place in school environments, professional arenas, and society at large.
2. Independent projects give neurodiverse learners something to care about: Struggling students can garner purpose and momentum from developing research projects that are personally relevant, hands-on, mentored, self driven, and based on a topic of their choosing.
Students with learning differences often avoid tasks they consider boring, especially when those tasks are components of complex projects that need to be executed in phases. However, many class assignments demand that students identify, organize, and navigate a detailed sequence of actions. Struggling learners can overcome their avoidance of projects that involve multiple steps by successfully following through on a major pursuit that genuinely interests them.
When they do this outside the constraints of an academic setting, with the support of a coach, they can customize their research and problem solving methods to learning methods that work best for them. This helps them harness cognitive skill building opportunities that may fall through the cracks in traditional learning environments.
Why is this important? Neurodiverse students may not always shine in a classroom, even where their innovative ideas contribute to the learning discourse. Operating on their own timeframe, with a guide, struggling students can tailor their exploration process, pairing their growth edges with an independent intellectual or creative pursuit.
Researching and building something substantial that they already consider to be relevant allows neurodiverse learners to practice problem solving, innovation, and communication skills in the context of an area of passion. They will already have the benefit of increased focus, and can leverage that to strengthen analytical skills they would normally find cognitively taxing.
Click here to learn how struggling students can discover increased motivation by creating a unique project.
Learn more about how mentorship and support exploring an independent project can help your child develop more solid motivation. Book a free consultation now.
As an executive functioning coach and academic tutor, I specialize in helping individuals with learning differences exceed their goals for academics, organization, and college transition.