A new research study from Australia claims that children labelled as lazy by teachers and parents may be suffering from numerous learning difficulties, which could underlie their apparent lack of motivation.
Linda Gilmore, educational psychologist from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), studied children aged seven to 10 years who were regarded as lazy by their parents and teachers.
They also found that three-quarters of the children had phonologically-based learning disabilities and/or significant problems with attention.
"Reports by teachers that children 'need to try harder' or 'make more effort' and 'apply themselves more' often convey the stigma of laziness to children and their parents," Gilmore said.
"Parents in the study reported their children seemed to have little interest in school, often failed to complete work and gave up very easily," she said.
Homework is a big issue
"For some children only one learning area was a problem, such as mathematics or reading but homework was a major issue for many families who reported pleading, nagging and pushing their child 'every step of the way'," she added.
Standardised TestingThe children completed two standardised tests to provide diagnostic information about their cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses, and basic reading, spelling, reading comprehension, writing and mathematics.
Depending on results of these two measures and the type of difficulties described by parents and teachers, the children were then assessed on more specific areas to pinpoint their particular problems.
Attention deficit and Hyperactivity
"Half of the children were found to have clinical signs of inattention and/or hyperactivity, others were found to have anxiety issues, visual perceptual or fine motor problems, and eight children had clear signs of dyslexia," Gilmore said.
She said these unrecognised difficulties could have led the children to withdraw from learning experiences and appear lazy.
Summary"These sorts of problems influence a child's ability to learn effectively and their capacity to function appropriately within the classroom," she said, according to a QUT release.
"Early diagnosis of such learning problems is essential to prevent children from experiencing multiple failures that undermine their feelings of competence and self-esteem," Gilmore concluded.