In the previous post, A New School Year & Learning Difficulties, Part 1, I made some suggestions about some steps that you can take if academic problems are popping up again after returning to school from a nice summer break. You may be concerned that your student is experiencing a learning disability or difficulty. Here are some more ideas for first steps that you can try if your student is struggling in school this year, either for the first time or as an on-going issue.
- Take a look at your child’s environment outside of the classroom. Is he following a schedule that includes plenty of rest at night, outdoor exercise and fresh air every day, and time to do homework away from TV or video games? Is his bedroom or your home a chaotic place that invites disorganization and misplaced homework, permission slips, school supplies, and gym shoes? For more help with creating a home environment that helps your child be more organized, you can subscribe for future posts.
- How is your daughter’s diet? Many students go off to school in the morning on a piece of toast or a granola bar…or worse yet, skip breakfast entirely. All people need some protein and complex carbohydrates, every day, to prepare them for a busy morning. A hungry child will not be a successful learner, may become irritable, have difficulty paying attention and remembering what she hears from the teacher, and will probably be lethargic and exhausted from lack of nourishment for more than a dozen hours. Poor nutrition contributes to problems in the classroom and with learning that often appear to be ADD, ADHD, or a learning disability. Watch for more information on this blog about optimal nutrition for learning.
- If you have verified with your child’s teacher, or you already know that your student is behind his expected achievement levels, your next step may be to find a well-qualified learning specialist or tutor to work individually with your child as soon as possible. For more information about how to find the most qualified tutoring help, see my upcoming posts about how to find the best tutor and how to find the best learning disabilities assessment.
- Speak with the teacher and school counselor to find out what help is available through the school district. Some schools have after-school tutoring programs or peer tutoring that involves older students helping younger students under the guidance of a teacher. Many students who are academically behind do not qualify for special learning assistance because their achievement test scores or individual testing does not fir the state or district guidelilnes. Ask about your school’s efforts to help students who are academically behind through their Response to Intervention program. Keep asking questions at the school and if you are not receiving any help then call the school district office or your state board of education office in order to find out what programs are available and how your child can qualify.
I encourage you not to shy away from finding the help your son or daughter needs to be a successful learner. It’s never too late to start. Even adult students have gotten back on track for a rewarding academic experience that has changed their lives and opened up wonderful new possibilities for their own children.