The Shut-Down Learner

The Shut-Down Learner

Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child

Richard Selznick, PhD

This book has methods that parents can use to help their shut-down learner succeed in school and life. The author helps them understand their child and offers approaches to break the downward spiral.


643 in stock

The Shut-Down Learner is based on the author’s clinical experience as a director of a program in the pediatrics department of a large teaching hospital that assesses and treats a broad range of learning problems. He has consulted with thousands of families, explaining complex data in straightforward terms understandable to the parents. He coined the term “shut-down learner” to describe children who thrive with hands-on tasks requiring visual and spatial abilities, but who become discouraged by their difficulty mastering core academic skills such as reading and writing.

As much as 40% of Americans experience problems with these core skills, and a significant proportion of them are spatial thinkers. This book is packed with techniques that parents can use to help their shut-down learner succeed in school and in life. In a friendly, non-technical style, the author helps us understand our child’s characteristics and offers specific approaches to break the downward spiral.

Dr. Selznick is a psychologist, a university professor, and the Director of the Cooper Learning Center at Cooper University Hospital.


Praise for The Shut-Down Learner


In reading Dr. Selznick's book, I thought for a minute he was writing my biography! I was one of those shut down learners who was called lazy almost every day. I was a child who believed I was just not very bright, and I believed that for the first 30 years of my life. And like the rest of us, I was filled with shame and self-loathing. If this book had been available to my teachers and my parents back then, how much suffering could have been avoided. If your child is doing poorly in school, imagine how much suffering can still be avoided. This book is clear, informative and without jargon. But more importantly, in today's world of diagnose it and medicate it, Dr. Selznick humanizes very real children with very real problems.

—Daniel Gottlieb, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, family therapist, host of “Voices in the Family” radio show, author of Learning from the Heart

Dr. Selznick not only challenges parents to gain a better understanding of their children, but also challenges the schools to understand how these children shut down. While wholesale revamping of curriculum is not being suggested, small changes can be easily accomplished. Children can be mentored. They can be encouraged. Teachers play a central role in altering the child’s negative belief patterns. The key is on relationship building. This does not cost money, but it takes time. As Dr. Selznick pointed out, sometimes taking a child for a walk or sharing a soda will long be remembered. Just conveying to the child that he/she is valued is enormously important on so many levels.

—William G Sharrar, M.D., Chief of Pediatrics, Cooper University Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Dr. Richard Selznick is the rare academic who speaks the language of parents and is able to make learning and developmental theory readable. He has the gift to turn theory into practice and to offer parents hope where there was hopelessness and frustration.

—John Kellmayer Ed.D., Superintendent, Brooklawn Public School District

I always knew I had certain talents and gifts, but up until I read this book, none of my feelings about school made sense to me. The revelation was that the book validated my brand of thinking, which is something that had never had happened before.

—Patrick Flanigan, photographer and former shut-down learner

Dr. Selznick has a keen eye for professional observation and extraordinary empathy for the children and parents that are fortunate enough to cross his path. Without resorting to professional jargon, Dr. Selznick has created a resource for parents and teachers that promotes insight and understanding, relieves guilt, and provides strategies for intervention.

—G. Emerson Dickman, J.D., President of the International Dyslexia Association

Additional information

Product Format


Page Count

160 pages


5.5 x 8.5 in.