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5 Reasons Why Children Struggle with Literacy

Every child is different. In NLP terms, every child has a different map of the world. Which is why traditional teaching methods don’t always engage everybody in the same way, and why national scales and achievement targets are not always helpful since children learn and develop at different rates. Of course the benchmarks set averages, but in NLP we don’t do average – only excellence!

Through our work with children of all ages we have identified 5 key reasons why some struggle with literacy:

  1. UK teacher training programmes fall short

In her book “Bridges to Success” Olive Hickmott, herself dyslexic but undiagnosed until long after she had finished school, notes that teachers are taught how to teach using multi-sensory activities, but they don’t necessarily learn how to teach children to learn in a multi-sensory way.

At Life Career Coaching we spend time in our workshops and 1:1s with children simply getting in touch with all of their senses and noting which one(s) are strongest for them.

We know that a child with a strong VISUAL preference will benefit from using different strategies to develop their literacy skills than a child with a strong AUDITORY preference.

So, in practice getting that magical 10 out of 10 for a spelling test might be achieved by looking at the spellings and the shape of the letters and whole words for a visual child, whereas saying or singing them might be better for an auditory child. A kinaesthetic (feelings) child usually benefits from air-writing, writing in sand or on a steamed-up mirror.

  1. Children just want to have fun

Let’s be honest – just how exciting is grammar and punctuation to a seven year old?! Many children just don’t see the point, or where their learning is going.

At Life Career Coaching we have found it helpful to have children set well-formed goals for themselves by identifying what will be better/easier when they can read and write with confidence. Some of the responses we get from our small clients include: “My teacher won’t tell me off” “I can read the text boxes on my computer game without asking my mum” or “I can go out to play when I know my spellings”.

Since we also recognize that 9-year old boys may not be that enthused by punctuating random sentences, we take time to find out their interests and hobbies so that we can tailor our exercises to something they can actually get excited about!

  1. Inability to concentrate or focus

 Yes that old chestnut, I’m afraid. We’ve all seen the school report that says “Billy would do better if he stopped fidgeting and distracting the person next to him”.

At Life Career Coaching we have had huge success with teaching children how to get grounded. Using simple, fun techniques we can help even the most fidgety of kids to calm themselves and remain focused within less than a minute. We also teach their parents so that they can do this together at home.

It’s a small tweak really but we have found that with greater concentration and focus come improvements in literacy and all aspects of learning.

  1. Lack of confidence or self-belief

Put simply, when children can’t learn to read, they cannot read to learn. Almost every other school subject relies on reading for children to progress

We help children recognise their interests, strengths and achievements by using a fancy-sounding but essentially simple technique called re-framing. We also use our specialist knowledge of language patterns to challenge the limiting beliefs that children build up about themselves such as “I am rubbish at spelling”.

Instead of focusing on what they think they can’t do, we first work with what they can do to build their trust and confidence.

  1. A specific reason

 For some children there may be a specific reason why they are struggling with literacy eg dyslexia.

Lisa has also trained as Empowering LearningTM Practitioner, which enables her to combine her NLP expertise with techniques and exercises designed to work with a child’s strengths to develop their literacy skills. She can also point you in the direction of more specialist forms of assessment and support should these be needed.

There are many reasons why children (and adults) struggle with literacy. These are just a few. That’s why using NLP with children and young people works so well. We take the time to get to know each unique individual and work with them in a creative and enjoyable way to build their belief, confidence and skills.

To learn more contact Lisa:


07815 057975

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