Do you think that your child may need some extra help in school? Are you confused about where to go or what to do? Our Education Writer, Anne, is here to help!
When children first start school, it can be very difficult to gauge how they are doing academically and socially. Young children develop at different rates, so comparing them is difficult. As they get older, it can become clearer to teachers and parents that some children are not keeping up with their peers and may need extra help or services in school. Below are some guidelines to help you decide if it’s time to seek help for your struggling student.
SEEKING EXTRA HELP IN SCHOOL HELP FOR YOUR CHILD
1.) Listen To Your Child’s Teacher.
Pre-school and kindergarten teachers have a very difficult job. They are given a class full of children without knowing any background information. It is their job to recommend services to struggling students and to intervene as early as possible. Because of this, early childhood educators are experts when it comes to child development. If your child’s teacher reaches out to you and recommends school testing or academic intervention services (AIS), try to have an open mind. It can be very painful to have a teacher tell you that your child might need special education services, but early intervention is the key to a child’s success.
2.) Keep the Lines of Communication Open.
As soon as you realize that your child may be struggling in school, it is important for you to be in close contact with your child’s teacher and school staff. School psychologists and social workers are great resources for information on testing, doctor recommendations, community organizations and tutors. Most service providers will even collect data and speak with medical doctors to help diagnose learning disabilities and other conditions. It is ok to share what works at home or the struggles you are facing.
3.) Become your child’s advocate.
Once you recognize the need for specialized services for your child, it is important to learn as much as you can about your child’s disability or learning style. Read as much as you can about child development and disabilities that effect learning. If you feel that your child’s school or teachers are not meeting his needs, you might need to step in. Schools are required by law to follow Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) and 504 plans for students with disabilities. If you do not feel like your child’s plan is being met, you need to speak with your building principal or Director of Special Education. You are also entitled to a special education advocate, which the district can provide for you. It is also appropriate to speak directly with your child’s teacher regarding classroom policies that effect your child’s learning. I had to advocate one year for my daughter, who has ADHD, when recess time was taken away for unfinished work. I told her teacher that I was not ok with that and the issue was resolved.
4.) What you can do outside of school.
Once the proper services are in place at school, you can focus on helping your child at home. It is very important to be as positive and supportive at home as you can. Celebrate your child’s strengths. When a child struggles academically, it often affects her self esteem. Your child needs to know that he is good at many things and that all people struggle at times. Find extra-curricular activities that make him feel confident and happy. Contact your child’s teacher immediately if homework takes an excessive amount of time and work out ways to limit work time. Consider hiring a tutor or having a family member help study to give you a break.
It is so important to remember that all children develop at their own pace and have different strengths and weaknesses. As parents and teachers, we must find those strengths and celebrate them!