What Is Moderate Learning Difficulties?

Understanding moderate learning difficulties (MLD) is crucial for parents and educators who want to provide the best support for children facing these challenges. Children with MLD can thrive with the right strategies and assistance, unlocking their full potential. 

This blog post will explore what moderate learning difficulties are, how they differ from other learning disabilities, and how SEN Tutors can help your child succeed. We will also cover the different types of learning difficulties and provide examples of special educational needs and disability support strategies.

Defining Moderate Learning Difficulties

Learning about the definition of moderate learning difficulties is essential for identifying and supporting children who face these challenges.

What does MLD stand for? It stands for moderate learning difficulties, highlighting significant yet not severe impairments in a child’s learning capabilities.

What Are Moderate Learning Difficulties?

Moderate learning difficulties (MLD) refer to conditions where children have a different pace of learning and understanding new concepts compared to their peers. These learning differences are more pronounced than mild learning difficulties but not as extensive as severe learning difficulties. 

photo - a child with moderate learning difficulties looking at his teacher in a classroom

What is moderate learning difficulties concept, exactly? This term encompasses a range of unique challenges that influence a child’s ability to grasp basic academic skills and sometimes interact socially.

Symptoms and Identification

Children with moderate learning difficulties often struggle with basic literacy and numeracy skills, understanding complex instructions, and maintaining concentration in a conventional classroom. They may also exhibit low self-esteem and social interaction challenges. 

What is moderate learning difficulties?

This question can be answered by observing these signs early in a child’s educational journey. Moderate learning difficulties examples include difficulty in reading, writing, and solving simple math problems.

Development and Causes of Moderate Learning Difficulties

photo - what are moderate learning difficulties?

The development of moderate learning difficulties can be influenced by various factors, including genetic predispositions, prenatal and perinatal conditions, and environmental influences. For instance, children born prematurely or with low birth weight are at a higher risk. Additionally, early childhood illnesses, head injuries, and exposure to toxins can contribute to the development of learning difficulties. 

Differentiating the Types of Learning Difficulties

It’s important to understand the distinctions between mild, moderate, and severe learning difficulties to provide the most effective support for each child. By recognising the unique characteristics and needs of each type, parents and educators can better tailor their approaches to help SEN children thrive academically and socially.

Mild Learning Difficulties

Children with mild learning difficulties might perform slightly below their peers academically but can generally manage with standard classroom adjustments. They have difficulties in specific areas but can function independently with some support. Examples of mild learning difficulties include:

  • Struggles with Reading and Writing: A child may have difficulty with spelling, reading comprehension, or writing coherently but can still follow along with classroom activities with minimal support.
  • Math Challenges: Difficulty understanding basic math concepts such as addition or subtraction but can manage with some help.
  • Short Attention Span: Mild issues with concentration that can be managed through classroom strategies and minor adjustments.

Moderate Learning Difficulties

Children with moderate learning difficulty have more pronounced difficulties that affect multiple areas of learning. They require tailored educational plans and more intensive support. MLD meaning SEN, is critical for understanding how to help these children. Examples of moderate learning difficulties include:

photo - a boy with moderate learning difficulties is sitting alone on the staircase in his school

  • Reading and Writing Delays: Significant struggles with reading fluency and comprehension, often requiring a comprehensive EHC plan with specialised instruction and one-on-one support.
  • Math Struggles: Challenges with understanding and applying basic mathematical concepts, needing continuous reinforcement and alternative teaching methods.
  • Social Skills Deficits: Difficulty interacting with peers, often resulting in social isolation or low self-esteem. It’s important to include emotional literacy in an MLD child’s education plan.

Severe Learning Difficulties

Children with severe learning difficulties need significant assistance in all areas of learning and daily activities. They may have limited communication skills and need constant supervision and specialised educational settings. 

What is a severe learning disability, exactly? It includes substantial intellectual impairments that greatly affect a child’s ability to learn and perform daily tasks. Examples of severe learning difficulties include:

  • Non-verbal Communication: Severe delays in language development, often using alternative communication methods like sign language or communication devices.
  • Comprehensive Support Needs: Requires help with basic self-care activities such as dressing, eating, and hygiene.
  • Profound Cognitive Impairments: Very limited understanding of academic concepts, requiring a highly individualised and simplified curriculum.

Specific Learning Difficulties

Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) like dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, fall under the broader category of learning difficulties. Specific learning disabilities meaning refers to difficulties in particular academic areas while general intellectual abilities remain intact.

photo - mld sen boy staring at his work book in a classroom wondering what to do

Dyslexia and Other SpLDs

Understanding learning difficulties vs learning disabilities is essential. Dyslexia, for instance, affects reading and spelling, while other SpLDs like dyspraxia, affect coordination and movement.

Identification and Support

Identifying moderate learning difficulties early is crucial for effective intervention. Teachers and parents should look for signs such as difficulties in reading and writing, slow progress compared to peers, and challenges in following instructions. Once identified, creating an individualised education plan (IEP) tailored to the child’s specific needs with helpful tools or EOTAS packages can help them achieve their full potential.

Tailored Support Strategies

Tailoring teaching methods to each child’s needs is essential. At SEN Tutors, we design personalised learning programs that address the specific challenges of children with moderate learning difficulties. This approach helps in creating a supportive and effective learning environment.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Support

Is ADHD a learning disability UK? Technically no, but it can significantly impact learning. Our tutors are skilled in supporting children with ADHD through strategies that enhance focus and learning outcomes. 

Physical Disabilities and Learning Challenges

Children with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida may also experience learning difficulties. Understanding what is a severe learning disability involves recognising the need for comprehensive support in both academic and daily activities.

Speech, Language, and Communication Needs

Supporting children with speech, language, and communication needs is crucial for their overall development. Our tutors help children overcome these barriers to learning, ensuring they can fully participate in educational activities.

Finding the Right Tutor for Your Child

photo - a SEN Tutors session with sen mld students in their Hertfordshire home

At SEN Tutors, we understand that finding the right tutor can make a significant difference in your child’s educational journey. Our process is designed to ensure a perfect match between tutor and student, providing personalised and effective support.

Consultation and Matching

Our educational experts will discuss your child’s strengths, areas needing support, and preferences (online tuition sessions vs in-person). We then match you with suitable tutors for you to review.

Initial and Regular Sessions

After meeting the tutor, you can book an initial session to ensure the fit is right. If it is, regular sessions can be arranged to provide consistent support for your child.

photo - a student girl smiling widely while sitting at her desk despite her moderate learning difficulties


In conclusion, understanding what is moderate learning difficulties and how to support children with MLD is essential for their academic and personal growth. SEN Tutors offers specialised, personalised tutoring services that cater to each child’s unique needs, ensuring they receive the support necessary to succeed. To get started, fill out SEN Tutors’ parent sign-up form, and we will contact you to discuss how we can help your child achieve their full potential.