When There’s Too Much to Learn: Supporting Your Child with Information Overload



It can be very frustrating for a child who struggles with information overload to understand – and effectively utilize – the information they are presented when they are at school. A child can underperform academically due to simply having to process too much information at a given time.

As a parent, helping your child better process information will help him or her from feeling overwhelmed so that he or she can excel at both home and school.

The following excerpt from my book The ABCs of Learning Issues defines the specific issue of information overload and provides helpful strategies for both parents and teachers. This is the first article in a multi-part series that explores common learning issues in children.

Clinical Definition

Information overload is a term used to describe a person who struggles to understand information and effectively utilize it to guide learning and decision-making processes when one receives too much information at a time.

Educators’ Definition

Students struggle to understand the content of the material presented because the volume of information presented is overwhelming to a student who struggles with information overload. All students feel overwhelmed by class content at some point, but students who struggle with information overload are frequently overwhelmed by content that other students can digest in a given class period.

What do these definitions mean?

A student that struggles with information overload will often underperform due to receiving too much information at one time. The sheer volume of content received is temporarily overwhelming. It is as if a circuit breaker shuts down.

Which behaviors may parents observe if their child demonstrates this learning issue?

  • Your child may appear to be dazed or lost in thought.
  • They reach their breaking point where they are no longer productive faster than you would expect for the task at hand.

Which professionals can treat this learning issue?

  • Learning specialists
  • Classroom teachers

Which teaching strategies can be effective in school?

  • Present small chunks of information to students.
  • Try to reduce the amount of information being presented in one class period.

Which strategies can help at home?

  • Design a homework routine with frequent planned breaks.
  • Break down assignments into manageable components.
  • Communicate with professionals the level of information overload experienced at home.

Bridging the gap between home and school and promoting a common language between parents and educators is instrumental in helping every child – regardless of their disability – reach their full academic and social-emotional potential.

Dana Stahl, M.Ed. grew up with learning disabilities and became a learning specialist to help children with learning issues reach their social-emotional and academic potential. Stahl's practice, Educational Alternatives, LLC, focuses on educational advice, advocacy, and school placements. The ABCs of Learning Issues is available on Amazon.