The Challenges Of Frumkeit And Learning Differences

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By Dr. Judah Weller

Educational Director, PTACH

While the underlying problems are complex, the reasons are actually simple. More than 75% of children with learning differences struggle with processing language in their native tongue. Religious study and observance, which requires speaking and reading Hebrew (a second language), become the target of a child’s anger and frustration, due to the burden on already-fragile learning skills. Frumkeit may be questioned, if not diminished.

The typical yeshiva or day school student spends tremendous energy trying to read, understand, and express himself or herself in lashon kodesh.

Children spend hours with linguistically complex texts such as Chumash, Navi, and Gemara (which is in a third language). For the child with a language-based learning difference, the entire experience can be exasperating.

Neuropsychology dysfunction occurs at one or more of the five levels of language structure (phonemic, morphologic, semantic, syntactic, and discursive). The result is impairment in receptive or expressive language or both. Since language is the messenger for all learning, the school setting, which asks students to interpret and express huge quantities of language on a daily basis, becomes a place of frustration and anxiety for children with language-processing disorders. They simply can’t meet the linguistic demands of an elementary, middle, and high school at the speed, quantity, and complexity expected.

PTACH’s specialists modify standard curricula to handle these challenges and enrich students’ lives academically, emotionally, and culturally. Through individual attention, counseling, and proven scientific teaching methods, PTACH makes learning a joy rather a liability. At PTACH, students become productive members of the Jewish community. They fit in with peers on a social level and within the larger religious community—a far greater and, in the long run, far more important social safety net. v

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