Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When a child struggles with dyslexia, executive function disorder, ADHD or any learning disability that impedes their academic success, parents and educators often work towards getting those children up to grade level. Helping struggling students work at the same level as their peers is of the utmost importance. However, frequently students who have LD become discouraged because they’re working towards goals other people have set. What’s more, these goals generally challenge them in the area of their disability.



Setting Goals

Before setting goals with your children, ask open-ended questions about their hopes such as:

  • If you could be anything when you grow up, what would you be?
  • What is something you are really interested in learning?
  • Who is a person you admire? Why?

Talking with your child can give you an idea of his passions. If his interest is still peaked, he will be more willing to work towards honing his math skills. It just might give him the determination he needs to ace those tests.


Working With and Around Learning Disabilities

Deciding he wants to excel in math to reach a goal will not ensure your child will succeed. Rather, you need to help him work with the benefits and disadvantages of his learning disability. Children with ADHD are extremely creative but lack the ability to focus on one object for an extended period of time. Creating schedules and setting timers can help those with ADHD harness their natural energy and direct it towards their passion.

Regardless of the disability, here are techniques parents can use to ensure their children can reach their goals:

  • Assess the learning disability. Each learning disability comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Learn about your child’s disability to understand what areas your child can excel in and what will give them a run for their money.
  • Propose remedies. Once you’re aware of your child’s weaknesses, you are able to come up with ways to overcome them. Specialists can help you understand the remediation necessary to help your child perform to the best of their ability.
  • Play to their strengths. Every child, has something they excel at. Even if this strength is non-academic, parents can use this strength to enhance their academic skills.
  • Follow through. With a plan in place you need to encourage your child to follow through. Help him create a chart that leads him towards his goal.


Tips for Success

Your child will not necessarily reach his ultimate goal, however striving and succeeding incrementally can be immensely rewarding. Here are some suggestions that might help push your child to continue working toward his goal:

  • Pay attention. Recognize when your child is working towards his goal and praise him for it.
  • Link schoolwork and personal goal. Your child will still be heavily involved in schoolwork, therefore connecting his personal goal with his subject matter will enhance both his performance in school and his perseverance.
  • Praise effort. Don’t only pay attention to results, praise your child’s attempts as well.
  • Reinforce success. When your child succeeds, ask him, “How did you do that?” This will help your child understand that he is highly capable (and will also give him an opportunity to give himself a compliment)!


Setting goals and working towards them are key elements of successful adult lives. With children who have LD, it is all the more important because they don’t often have the opportunity to succeed in the regular classroom setting. Through goal setting, they can learn to believe in themselves and begin to say, “I think I can.”


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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at