What Are Some Barriers to Student Learning?

Updated February 21, 2017

When children have difficulty learning, there are many reasons to consider. Perhaps a child performs poorly on tests because of anxiety or confusion, or maybe the classroom set-up is not conducive to the child's learning ability. When children in the classroom setting are having trouble keeping up, parents and teachers can come together to figure out exactly what barriers prevent effective learning.

Classroom Disruptions

Sometimes students have a hard time concentrating when students are talking out of turn or being disobedient. A simple distraction, such as a child getting up to use the rest room, can ruin another student's concentration to the point that all focus is lost. When a child's attention span is very short, teachers can help redirect the child by saying, "Should I go over that again?" or "What do you think the next step to this problem is?" These gentle reminders help children get back on track when the lesson is disrupted.

Being Different

A student who does not speak the language clearly will likely have trouble keeping up with his class. Teachers should utilise task-based learning strategies and repetition to help these students. Social differences also contribute to learning problems. If a child is bullied because he looks different, for example, the emotional toll can stunt his self-confidence, which in turn prevents him from speaking up and asking questions in the classroom. Children can also internalise stress from home, and then have a difficult time receiving and understanding academic instruction.

Learning Disabilities

Undiagnosed learning disabilities are sometimes to blame for children's having trouble in the classroom. A parent might work with a child on homework, knowing the child is struggling, but not communicate well with the teacher to see if classroom performance is any different. Teachers and parents need to assess a child's learning habits and try to find tools that will support specific ways the child learns best. Children who learn differently need to have individual help during school and professional help outside of the classroom in order to keep up with peers who are grasping academic concepts in conventional ways.


A student's learning habits will be drastically challenged if he or she is not in good health. Children should have their ears and eyes checked yearly. If a child has trouble reading, for example, the solution might be glasses. If classwork is consistently done incorrectly or directions are not being followed, a teacher should wonder if a child has hearing loss. Health barriers also include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), where a child might fidget constantly or talk excessively so that school work is difficult to complete. In addition, if a child's nose constantly runs or she has a lot of headaches, allergies might be the culprit.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.