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When a child struggles with learning, reading, math, paying attention or keeping up in the classroom, weak cognitive skills may be to blame. In this blog, we explore the warning signs of weak cognitive skills.

Young girl with a school uniform sitting at a desk with other learners in the background.

Easily forgetting what was heard or read? Studying for tests but not achieving good grades? Taking a long time to finish homework and assignments? Finding it hard to keep up in the classroom? Struggling to pay attention and stay focused?

Is your child showing the warning signs of a cognitive weakness?

What Are Cognitive Skills?

Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. Working together, they take incoming information and move it into the bank of knowledge you use every day at school, at work, on the sports field, and in life.

Why Are They So Important?

Each of your cognitive skills plays an important part in processing new information. That means if even one of these skills is weak, no matter what kind of information is coming your way, grasping, retaining, or using that information is impacted.

In fact, most learning, reading, attention, memory, and even math struggles are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills.

What Are The Signs Of Weak Cognitive Skills?

As a general guideline, a weak cognitive skill or combination of weak cognitive skills could present as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Lots of unfinished projects

  • Jumping from task to task

  • Easily distracted

  • Difficulty multitasking

  • Battling to keep paying attention for a period of time

  • Frequent (same/similar) mistakes

  • Struggling with math and problem solving

  • Forgetting names

  • Struggling with reading, reading fluency or reading comprehension

  • Forgetting regularly scheduled meetings and deadlines

  • Difficulty retrieving information on the spot/under pressure

  • Doing poorly on tests or exams

  • Have to go through the information you need to know before a meeting/test/exam shortly before you need it - otherwise you forget

  • Forgetting things you used to know

  • Difficulty relaying information, especially in your own words

  • Taking a long time to finish homework/assignments

  • Having to read directions or instructions again and again

  • Rushing through tasks and missing all the details

  • Difficulty visualising processes or formulas

  • Difficulty remembering or following multi-step directions

  • Forgetting what was just said in a conversation/meeting

  • Frequently asking "What do I do next?" or saying " I don't understand" or "I don't get this"

  • Feeling stuck or overwhelmed - difficult finding a starting point

  • Struggling with learning

  • Difficulty remembering what you've just read

  • Difficulty following directions, reading maps

  • Taking a long time to complete tasks, frequently being the last one in a group to finish something, the "slow" one, usually battle to finish exams or time-restricted work assignments

Can Weak Cognitive Skills Be Strengthened?

Yes, they can! The secret though, is knowing which skills are weak so they can be targeted and strengthened.

How To Pinpoint Weak Cognitive Skills

Untested, cognitive weaknesses can remain undetected for years while hindering a person's ability to learn, concentrate, keep up in the classroom, think on their feet, or read and comprehend successfully. Guessing at the cause of the struggle without testing can lead to frustration and wasted time and money.

Because each person has a unique, individual cognitive profile, the first step in helping is always a Cognitive Assessment to pinpoint strong and weak cognitive skills, and identify individual learning needs.

So don't wait one more day, week or term to get the answers and the help you're looking for!


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