By Ginger Young
All parents, no matter the setting in which they choose to educate their child, hope for the path of learning to be successful and uncomplicated as possible. When small bumps in the path become like the ascent to Mt. Everest, disappointment, frustration and sadness begin to affect the entire family. An individual’s learning struggles are never suffered in solitude. The question becomes for teachers and parents, “What do I do to fix the problem?” Sometimes the problem is not “fixable”, however it is identifiable. When there is a large gap between the verbal and written ability of a student, it often points to the possibility of a diagnosable learning disability.
The job of teaching the child with learning disability does not stop at the end of the school day. It continues into all areas of family life, Bible class, and any teachable moment from any caring person who enters the life of the child. With the large incidence of diagnosed learning disabilities among school age children, the next question is “How do I teach this child in a way he/she can learn and be successful?” The simplest answer to the question is this—follow the steps of  the Master.
When Jesus taught, he rarely gave lectures on new ideas he was trying to teach. He told parables. When He was explaining the kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13, He did so with two parables. After He had created curiosity in the lesson, and the disciples had time to contemplate the meaning, they came to Him and asked Him to explain. Jesus then attached the meaning of the lesson He was teaching.
Jesus sometimes taught lessons through active participation. When the Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Him while at the temple in John 8, first He wrote in the dirt and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  For understanding, Jesus asked the Pharisees to do self-examination, and then participate. He used this same technique with the apostles in Luke 5, when He asked them to cast their nets after a night of catching nothing. The willingness of Simon Peter to do so results in the nets being filled to the point of almost breaking. Then Jesus gave the message. The most well known example in the Bible of the use of physical participation in the teaching of a lesson is found in Matthew 14:28-31 when Jesus taught the power of faith after Peter walked on the water.
Jesus had a command of the ability to use past learning to attach meaning to new ideas. Over and over again, He made reference to Scripture from the Old Testament. He caught the attention of His audience by beginning so many lessons with “It is written…” He would then build on this foundation of understanding and knowledge to teach a vital lesson. When He used this approach, He usually came right to the point of the lesson so that He kept His audience while he had its attention. He was able to meet His objective quickly, whether it was explaining the fulfillment of prophecy, giving a new twist to an old lesson, or sharing changes, coming with the new law.
These examples are by no means an exhaustive list of the teaching techniques Jesus used, but rather a place to begin, especially with a child who struggles with both content and meaning which most children with learning disabilities do. Jesus knew His audience and used the techniques which best addressed the lesson He was teaching. This is a good beginning place for anyone playing a teaching role. A study of the gospels provides a teaching manual for addressing the needs of all learners. The greatest lesson we can learn from Jesus, as we prayerfully prepare to teach, is to teach the gift of compassion He showed to His teaching audience. He was kind and concerned for all, and showed great interest in those with an extra burden.
 “Specific learning disability” means a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, or economic disadvantage.
Source: Code of Federal Regulation, Title34, Subtitle B, Chapter III, Section 300.7(b)(10)