Throughout their school years, students confront a tide of concepts, facts, and procedures that they need to interpret reliably. From this interpretation comes the building of knowledge and skills, and the ultimate goal of learning – the understanding of ideas. The ability to understand depends upon this foundation of knowledge and skills. Understanding is a cumulative process, as students must continually use their existing knowledge to create or clarify new insights. Understanding grows over time. Being able to understand in depth facilitates the existence and enjoyment of learning.

Students who are adept at understanding ideas are often highly successful in meeting the expectations of school and daily life. Students for whom misunderstanding impedes learning are at serious risk in school and beyond. Multiple areas of neurodevelopmental function may impact students’ ability to understand, including attention, memory, language, visual-spatial and sequential thinking and higher order cognition. Students’ strengths and weaknesses in these neurodevelopmental areas can impact how well they are able to pay attention to important information, understand the language, concepts, and patterns in what they are learning, and have a sense of when they do and do not understand.

Select from the choices below to learn more about aspects of understanding that are facilitated by neurodevelopmental functions and to read about strategies that help students strengthen their understanding: