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Are my daughter's scholastic problems caused by shifting to Germany?

Q: My daughter is 10 years old. She starting talking very late. We took her to various doctors who gave different diagnoses. Some even suggested mild autism. One of my friends advised me to speak to her in only one language. That helped a lot. Now she speaks in English but does not understand Hindi or Malayalam though we speak it at home. She is good in studies but finds difficulty in English comprehension and in Maths. She was never interested in stories like the kids of her age. She rarely picks up new English words herself but if we consciously repeat it twice, she never forgets them. She never sits with us to watch a movie but when alone would watch repeatedly the same songs and dialogues for a number of times that it gets on our nerves. She has few friends and she converses with them fairly well. But we feel she could do more. She is very good in learning things by heart without understanding the meaning. So she was doing excellent in India where a lot of importance is given to that kind of learning. In Germany, the stress is more on creative writing and comprehending passages. She simply fails to understand and finds it difficult to do without help. Is this a problem or some kids are just like that?

A:It must be confusing for your daughter to cope with another new language: German. Even if she is in an English school, the language she hears around her will be totally different. And even English is spoken differently by people in Germany, compared to the English she had heard spoken in India. It is not surprising that she feels that her school tasks are difficult. Children songs in German must be available. Maybe listening to them will help her a little. The system of learning answers by heart leads to no new information or knowledge. It is much better to understand what one is doing. Even if the process is slow, understanding what is written is very important. She may as well pick up the right kind of learning habits. Since your daughter has been a little different from the very beginning, it is better not to push her to achieve a specific goal. You should also consult the School Psychologist (there is likely to be one attached to the school) and explain the child's health history and ask for advice on how best to handle the situation. Start from your child's strengths and interests, instead of focussing on what she cannot do. The DoctorNDTV archives also have a couple of articles on Autism, which may help you, even if your child is not autistic. Your child must also be missing her friends. Try and find an activity that also involves other children, in which she can participate. But do this gradually and without pressure to get to some point. All the best.

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