The most common barriers to learning

Book and barbed wire

Any factor that prevents a child from learning to his full potential may be considered to be a barrier to learning.

The term “Barrier to learning” is often used interchangeably with the term “Learning Difficulty” – and even though barriers to learning may include learning difficulties, they cover so much more than just that.  Barriers to learning refer to any difficulty or situation that may prevent a children from learning and can be loosely divided into the following categories:

 

  • Emotional and Health barriers – these may include factors such as chronic illnesses that prevent children from attending school or could indicate poor health of family members, including things like substance by parents that may cause them to not take the child to school regularly.
  • Financial Issues  – for instance children who are undernourished will find it very difficult to concentrate at school, no matter how regularly they attend.  Issues such as lack of access to adequate childcare, inadequate availability of learning resources and crime and violence also often occur in very poor communities.
  • Cultural and Social Issues – Children may be discriminated against based on their race or gender and prevented from attending school because of these factors.  Think of societies in which girls are expected to stay home to help with the housework while their brothers are sent to school.
  • Barriers within the academic system – striking or inefficient teachers and an inflexible curriculum that does not account for the differences in how children learn are examples of these.
  • Language and Education – This is an especially relevant issue in this country.  Think of all the learners in this country who attend school in a language other than their home language.  Sometimes the language of education is not even just a second language but often even a third or fourth language!
  • Lack of parental involvement – This barrier to learning is often overlooked, but the available research shows a very definite decline in academic results and school attendance in families where parents do not take an active interest in their children’s schooling.
  • Learning difficulties – these may include difficulties within the child such as Dyslexia or ADHD that prevent them from performing according to their true potential.

Sometimes barriers to learning may compound – think for instance of a physically disabled child in a poor community.  His parents may worry that he will not be able to contribute meaningfully to the family income one day and so choose not to send him to school, but to rather spend their available resources on his able bodied sibling’s education.

It is so important for all of us to be aware of these barriers to learning so that we may not only work together to find ways to remove these barriers for our children, but also that we find ways to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Comments ( 16 )

  • author-hexa-bg

    This publication is a good material to help me design a new curriculum

  • author-hexa-bg

    Are all children the same and why? Is it because of a barrier? Pls help

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Hloni,

      In my experience no two children are ever alike 🙂 regardless of whether they have a learning difficulty or not.

      All children learn differently, but some children may have significantly more difficulty in learning – and these are the barriers we need to be aware of.

      I find the term “barrier” to learning to be very descriptive. In my mind, whenever I hear the term, I imagine a bunch of kids about to run an athletics race but only one or two children may have hurdles in their lanes while the other children can all run the race without these. Identifying and addressing these “barriers”, these “hurdles” to learning is like removing the obstacles from those lanes so that all the children can run the same race.

  • author-hexa-bg

    Yes I think it will be a very good idea if in schools we can have psychologists to deal with this matters because most of the parents cannot afford or for some reason can’t go to the psychologists.

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Bajabulile,

      I couldn’t agree more! There is a such a great and the few Educational Psychologists employed by the Education Department are completely overwhelmed. I really take my hat off to them as I think they do a great job given the circumstances and time pressure, but the need is simply too big. We need to advocate on all levels (to Government, to the Education Departments, to Schools) for more Educational Psychologists to be employed by the state. Each school should have at least one Educational Psychologist of their own among the staff.

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Bajabulile,

      I couldn’t agree more! There is such a great need and the few Educational Psychologists employed by the Education Department are completely overwhelmed. I really take my hat off to them as I think they do a great job given the circumstances and time pressure, but the need is simply too big. We need to advocate on all levels (to Government, to the Education Departments, to Schools) for more Educational Psychologists to be employed by the state. Each school should have at least one Educational Psychologist of their own among the staff.

  • author-hexa-bg

    tanks for them, they are useful and they helped me when I was doing my assignment, and they will help me as a student teacher in case my learners experience them I can able to tackle in a good manner, and able to quickly recognise those who are affected

  • author-hexa-bg

    I need some assistance/guidance
    I am helping a nine year old boy who is repeating grade 2.

    I noticed that his working memory is not transferring information to his long term memory. He holds information no longer than 2-3 seconds and cannot remember the word we just practised.
    His reading is below average for his age. 5-7wpm.

    However and here is my challenge:
    He understands Math
    When I read him a story, he can retell it.
    When I read sentences and ask him to write it down he is able to do it. It is very simple short sentences with short words.

    When we practice a word like “get” we sound it, but when I ask him to say the whole word, he says something else for example “can”
    GET and CAN are so different from each other.

    He also omits beginning sounds.
    When he sound a word “spot” he will say “pot” or “stop” he says “top” (auditory discrimination of sounds)

    We had his eyes tested and there is a problem with the eye muscles. We are doing exercises for that.

    Please can you shed some light on what I can do to help him further.

    Regards
    Yolande

    (Barriers to Learning and Inclusive Education)

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Yolande,

      If he is able to cope with Maths, recall stories, etc it seems that his short term memory is fine, but that he may have problems with working memory. Basically, working memory means that we can store information in our brains WHILE manipulating that information in order to give it back in a different form. What is his attention span like? From what you describe it is possible that there might be an Auditory Processing Difficulty (APD) as well. It could be that either one of these is causing his difficulties, or that they are present co-morbidly (together) and so each may have an impact. You also mention the problem with his eye-muscles which will impact on visual tracking, etc.

      I would strongly recommend that you suggest to his parents that he be assessed by an Educational Psychologist. Not only will the psychologist be able to identify where the problem lies, but also suggest ways in which to tackle it.

      All the best!

  • author-hexa-bg

    What is the major thing in understanding sna (support needs assessment)

    • author-hexa-bg

      Hi Thulile,

      I’m not sure that I am interpreting your question correctly … but if you are asking about the most important element of an SNA it is to get down to the root problem. What is ACTUALLY going on – why is the child struggling. Once you know the nature of the beast that you are dealing with, you can start compiling a plan to help the child move forward and ideally, overcome his problems.

  • author-hexa-bg

    Poverty- many children stay into rural areas and some in urban area though they get porrige at school provided by the the government, they still have that issue or no food at home. This can make them think of any other way to get food intead of depending on school porridge. Therefore, poverty is also one of the learning barrier.

  • author-hexa-bg

    This article was very nice and helpful.. .

  • author-hexa-bg

    This article is great!!
    Thanks so much for your help 🙂

  • author-hexa-bg

    The barriers to learning destructs learners from their objectives ,and lead to demoralized learners who end up unable to overcome some if not all of these difficulties. Ultimately these are learners who either drop out of school or fail perpetually.More needs to be done to remove all barriers to learning.Counselling for instance needs to be advocated at schools to rehabilitate learners and get them into the correct frame of mind in order for them to excell.

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