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The Shut Down Learner: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child
  1. Are Your Kids Shut-Down Learners?
  2. Kids with Learning Disabilities: Fueling the Shut-Down Learner Tanks
  3. Lending Library Subjects
  4. BY Richard Selznick

He barely does his homework, there s a constant struggle at home, and the more you push, the more he retreats. This is the classic case of a shut-down learner, says Dr. Richard Selznick. Selznick, who serves as director of the Cooper Learning Center, a division of the Department of Pediatrics of Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey, assesses and treats a broad range of learning and school-based academic and behavioral problems.

Over the years, Selznick has consulted with thousands of families and has discovered that, unfortunately, shut-down learners are a fairly common group of learners. The prototype shutdown learner is a teenager who feels pretty beaten down by the time he comes to me, Selznick says.

He has an emotional block, and his battery is depleted. He s got his parents coming at him, the teacher.

It s too much. I try to present things to parents in a very down-to-earth way, without any jargon, so that it s digestible and not threatening, Selznick says. The message is this: parents need to understand these kids. Yelling at the kids, telling them they re not trying hard enough this doesn t work.

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Selznick explains that in many cases, parents just need to back off, be less aggressive about the homework, and find a way to relate to their child s struggles. These kids may have a range of learning disorders, Selznick says, but I want to stay away from the labeling because in the end, these kids have a great number of strengths that they need to key into. As Selznick explains it, the shut-down learner tends to be a problem-solver, someone who learns spatially and thrives with hands-on tasks that load on visual and spatial abilities.

On the downside, they often lack the core skills necessary for success in school. These kids often get all the way through the system, getting more and more disconnected because they simply can t learn the way teachers want to teach, Selznick says.


Are Your Kids Shut-Down Learners?

But when you say to the kid, Look, you re really good at this stuff if I put you in a room with a hundred kids, you re better than ninety of them then the kid feels okay, like I m good at a lot of things. I m smart. Selznick says the key is that these children learn differently; they need patience and understanding from parents, and they also need their parents to believe in their strengths and to empower them.

They can be a hard group to work with. They re giving their parents a hard time, they look bored in class, they re disconnected, Selznick says. Or, the second type I see is the ones who are more pleasant in the social area, but they re masking their insecurities.

Kids with Learning Disabilities: Fueling the Shut-Down Learner Tanks

Either way, they need to understand that they re really smart kids and they re good at things, too. In fact, Selznick says, if these kids can survive school without losing too much self-esteem, they have a good chance at being highly successful. Lloyd Stone, a classic shut-down learner growing up, has turned out to be successful despite his earlier challenges in school. Today, at 53, Stone is president of Manny Stone Decorators in New Jersey, a company that designs and builds trade show exhibits for clients on a national and international scale. I ve overcome this and adapted to it and have actually been able to assimilate into society by creating a different path, Stone says.

It s almost like a mutation I branched out in other directions that got me to the same place. Stone s experiences in school have also given him a very specific take on best practices in business: I hire B students. A students, things come too easily to them, Stone says. I want the B student, the guy who has met with defeat and has been able to learn from defeat. This should be music to many parents ears. However, Selznick urges parents to trust their instincts when their kids are young and to spot the learning problems early.

Some people will say, Oh, you know how boys are. He ll grow out of it. But if your gut tells you something s wrong, get it checked out, Selznick says. Save your kid the trouble later. If you think your young child might fit the mold of the shut down learner later on, here are a few things to look for: Tuning out in circle time Highly spatial and visual learners Active or over-active Difficulty with language-based activities such as reading and writing Shut-down learners don t develop overnight, and early intervention is key.

Selznick suggests that if the problems persist into 1st or 2nd grade, a visit to a child or school psychologist is probably a good idea.

Lending Library Subjects

One of the worst feelings a child can have is being discouraged in school. The sense of hopelessness that pervades can become almost insurmountable. This is the emotional experience for the child called the shut-down learner. Also referred to as Lego kids or high-spatial children, such kids thrive with hands-on tasks that use their visual and spatial abilities. This book offers perspective and hope to parents who are struggling with these issues.

Read more Read less. Review Dr. No customer reviews. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. December 31, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. This is a phenomenal book! It sheds light on students, who are equally gifted as "traditional" language-based Learners, but who are often marginalized because their strength in learning is more visual-spatially-based. Many, many educators perceive these learners as "dumb," "stupid," "lazy," "idiots" among the terms I've personally heard.

The Shut Down Learner - Dr Richard Selznick - part 3

It is OUR job as educators to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of these Learners, but so often we fail to do so. October 15, - Published on Amazon. I so wanted to like this book.

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The entire book boils down to this: don't just give your kids Ritalin and yell at them to do their school work--get them an educational evaluation! I have a hard time believing that any parent who would bother to read a book on education wouldn't have already thought of this. Boredom, anxiety, mismatch of curriculum and student, temperament, too much structure, too little structure, etc.

I guess I was hoping for a more complex exploration of these factors and for practical strategies.

BY Richard Selznick

July 18, - Published on Amazon. Helping a child cope with dyslexia has been a challenge for both her parents and I grandparent. It means an entire different way to guide her and help her through those difficult times. February 12, - Published on Amazon.

I have a son with Tourette's and Asperger's. This book pulls in the psychology behind some of the issues and behaviors we've faced. My son is so bright and gifted and I have questioned why he has such struggles with school work. This book gives good explaination. Richard Selznick.