Skip to content

Learning problems in children of primary school age

  • by

The central cause of learning problems in children of primary school age is the pressure to perform, because children initially come to school with great joy until the first failures occur. Disappointment over bad grades is accompanied by criticism from parents and perhaps laughter from classmates. Although the ability to learn is there, doing homework becomes an unloved burden, causing the level of knowledge in some school subjects to deteriorate further. High pressure to perform can cause anxiety and stress in children, which can lead to impaired cognitive functioning and make learning difficult. Children can feel stressed when they feel they are not living up to their parents’ expectations, for example, or are afraid of making mistakes. This external pressure, which is also internalised at some point, can negatively affect motivation and self-confidence.
Excessive pressure to perform can lead to perfectionism, where children set unrealistically high standards for themselves, i.e. they feel under constant pressure to always be the best and develop a fear of making mistakes. This can lead to avoidance behaviour, where children avoid certain tasks or challenges in order to avoid possible mistakes. Such a strong focus on performance and results can cause children to lose the joy of learning, with a primary focus on grades, tests and comparing themselves to others affecting their intrinsic motivation. In addition, over time they will view learning as a tedious chore rather than experiencing it as an interesting and enriching process. If children are constantly under pressure to perform well, their self-esteem will be affected, because over time they will feel that their self-worth as a person depends solely on their academic performance.

In addition, there are the traditional causes of learning problems:

  • Children may have difficulties in reading and writing, such as problems with letter recognition, word recognition or spelling. Causes may include weakness in phonological processing, a genetic predisposition to reading and spelling difficulties, lack of reading experience or inadequate support at home.
  • Some children have difficulties in the mathematical domain, such as problems in understanding mathematical concepts, number recognition or arithmetic. Causes may be a weakness in numerical understanding, lack of practice or inadequate teaching of mathematical concepts at school.
  • Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may have difficulty concentrating, show impulsive behaviour and have problems organising tasks. The exact cause of is unknown, but both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role.
  • Some children may have delays or difficulties in language development, such as limited vocabulary, grammar problems or difficulty expressing their thoughts. Causes may include genetic factors, hearing problems, environmental factors or a lack of language stimulation.
  • Children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders or learning disabilities may have specific learning difficulties related to their underlying neurological make-up. Causes of developmental disorders can be genetic factors, brain developmental disorders or specific environmental factors.