At this point in the school year review of last year’s work is well over and new content material is being learned. You may notice a sinking feeling or uneasiness as you observe your child that he or she may be experiencing difficulty.
This article is meant to provide some simple guidelines and support to you as a parent in helping your child succeed in school this year. It is not to “bash” the many wonderful teachers and administrators who truly are devoted to seeing children reach their potential and struggle within the confines of public education.
Number 1 – Trust your gut. You have lived with your child for 5 or more years already. Especially if you have other children you have a sense of what is the “norm” for learning. Write down your concerns, note your observations and comments made by your child regarding school, and what he or she is learning.
2) Make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher. Explain your concerns and what you are seeing at home. Is the teacher seeing similar behaviors? If not, that does not invalidate what you see. Ask the teacher to observe your child and let you know if they start seeing any behavior that may contribute to his/her learning difficulty. The home and school environments are often very different in expectations and structure. Either environment can and will highlight your child’s strengths and difficulties. Note these.
Your child’s teacher may also have observations and concerns that you do not see at home. Get specific. What do they see, what time of day (before or after lunch, recess, morning, afternoon), working alone, small group, during listening activities, copying from board or a workbook. If you feel that what you hear is generalized, labeling then it probably is. Don’t let the labels rattle you.
If your child is classified as eligible for special education services, meet ahead of annual review with the teacher to get own input about what has worked, not worked this year. Give teacher a pre-test/ post test to use so you will have definite data for progress made. No guesses, no surprises.
3) The power is within you. Do not accept the excuse about how many students the teacher has. Do not allow your observations to be minimized or pushed aside by your teacher or pediatrician for that matter. Don’t get thrown off course by the all too frequent misuse of the terms ADD or dyslexia. Again talk specific behaviors, symptoms. We all have strengths and weaknesses and many can be managed with creative, practical approaches. Accommodations to your child’s everyday learning can be made for your child without having a 504 Plan or IDEA eligibility.
4) This is one of the most important points to helping your child succeed –
Think Outside the Box! With all due respect to the education system, this is not commonly found in schools. Many solutions can be found if we open our minds beyond the status quo approach. Think creatively and don’t take “I have too many students, we don’t have that, can’t do that “as the bottom line. In many cases this unfortunately, but realistically means using professionals in private practice to provide the training that the schools don’t provide.
5) We too often take a Pollyanna approach to the education system by assuming that our child will come out ready to meet the world with all the skills they need. Do not assume this and hand over your child’s education especially if there are some learning challenges.
You are ultimately responsible for your child reaching his or her potential. IQ tests and grades don’t give the true picture; how your child is functioning in school and in the world is the best measure of success. Are you hearing that your child is doing fine in school, his/her report card showing A’s and B’s? Do you see the growth? The skill development?
The improved confidence? This is the true measure of achievement. If not then question the grades, the comments.
If your child is bright and is not learning to read on grade level in a year, question it. With the right reading program they can learn to read. Again, don’t let the “labels” be used as an excuse. You have the educational laws in this country behind you. Your child is entitled to a free and appropriate education (FAPE), and the methods and curriculum used are mandated to be scientifically researched and proven by the No Child
Left Behind Act of 2016.
6) Find your resources. LDonline, are two popular and very supportive, useful websites for parents and teachers. Develop a parent support group. Get involved in your PTO to make a difference for your child and others. Again, respect your knowingness, use your power productively and think creatively. The answers are out there.