Is your child is struggling in school? Rest assured, you are not powerless and you can help your child find success. My son had several difficult phases early on in his education, and while he is still only in 4th grade, he is thriving in so many ways. There is life, joy and success that still awaits you and your little learner. Be encouraged and then prepare to become your child’s fiercest advocate.
If your child is not yet in the third grade, I strongly suggest a slow approach. In the earliest grades (Preschool-2nd grade) there is so much still developing and in progress with your little one even in terms of physical brain development. You could very well receive an analysis that will not be accurate or valid within a year’s time. I cannot say how many times I have seen children struggle terribly in these early years and then soar to the top of their classes in the 3rd or 4th grade. Conversely, I have also seen children thrive in the early years only to have much of their success unravel before they leave elementary school.
Many early educators often use 3rd grade as a benchmark for when the curriculum truly “sorts” through the children in many classrooms. In fact, many agree that kids learn to read until third grade, and “read to learn” thereafter. The children who find themselves struggling during this time, or even shortly before or after, are the children we will address. We will discuss here the first few steps in navigating your youngster’s personal path to success.
- Talk to your child’s teachers. Think of your child’s teacher as a third eye that can report back what you don’t have the ability to see. Develop an ongoing and comfortable discussion with your child’s teacher. Simple emails in the first weeks asking what they see as common struggles for your child and what strategies they suggest or use is a great starting point. Your consistent contact with them will help them to be mindful to take note of your child when it is important. While this sounds like a small step, it is a huge help in beginning to draw a full picture of what is behind your child’s possible difficulties. Keep as many notes as possible in this phase.
- Consider creating your own weekly reports and send them in with your child at the end of each school week. List simple questions the teacher can answer simply by circling ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Questions like “Completed most work in a timely fashion?” or “Often needed instructions repeated?”. Take the teacher’s lead in forming the questions based on the areas they say have proven difficult during class time.
- Encourage your child in those areas and create simple but specific strategies they can use on their own. Sometimes you can equip your child simply by helping them to be mindful of their own behavior patterns. Also, be careful to not let them see the weekly reports in a negative way where they create pressure or anxiety. You could end up receiving the direct opposite effect you are hoping for. Instead, let your youngster know this is merely your way of helping them make their time in the classroom a little less stressful.
Although many will find success with this method, there are always kids who may require a more in-depth look at their learning styles before you can create viable strategies for their success. While we will discuss these in the next segment of this series, please remember in the meantime that your child’s joy and success does not begin and end with school, it begins and ends with the Creator who made them for a wonderful purpose—and you were made to walk beside them through it all.