For many students, back-to-school season comes with the promise of a fresh start and another fun and successful year of learning. They eagerly fill their backpacks with sharpened pencils and notebooks for each subject. But for students who struggle in school, their bags quickly get weighed down with anxiety, stress and waning self-confidence as another school year looms on the horizon.
It can be frustrating for both parent and student when conversations about report cards dissolve into tears, or discussions at the dinner table end in arguments as your child insists they don’t need any help practising their spelling words. Does your son constantly leave his maths book in his desk? Is your daughter able to give great verbal summaries but freezes when she has to do a written assignment? While these struggles may have been buried under the sand while your family was at the beach this summer, they are likely to surface as you transition back into the school year routine.
When searching for ways to help support your son or daughter this school year, one of the best things you can do is be proactive about giving them the tools they need.
Fill Your Tool Kit
In the age of the internet and social media, you’ll find a wide variety of free and varied resources to help you best understand, empathise with and support your student. Take advantage of the lighter homework load in the first weeks of the school year and start gathering information:
- Join Facebook groups for parents in your area where you can swap tips about the best local tutors or upcoming events.
- Balancing extracurriculars and school work may lead to cranky, sleep-deprived middle and high schoolers. The Child Mind Institute offers tips for helping your teenager get more sleep.
- Email may be the easiest way to reach out to your child’s teacher — set up a time (even before Back-to-School Night) to discuss her expectations for the school year and learn about any recommendations she may have for supplemental materials or other educators. You can also share information about your student’s strengths and strategies that have previously worked well for him or her in the classroom.
The Right Instruction
As the school year continues, it may become clear that your student is struggling to keep up. Choppy reading fluency or trouble recognizing sight words despite seeing them in the previous paragraph may be due to a weakness in symbol imagery (the ability to visualise letters and sounds within words). Weak symbol imagery will cause difficulty in establishing sight words, contextual fluency, and spelling.
A student who has trouble following directions, comprehending what she’s read or organising her time may have challenges with concept imagery, or the ability to image a gestalt (whole). She may be able to read quickly and accurately but struggle to understand and describe what she’s read or answer critical thinking questions about a given text.
At Lindamood-Bell, we are committed to teaching all children and adults to read and comprehend to their potential. The first step in understanding your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses is scheduling an evaluation, which you can learn more about here.
To find out more about how Lindamood-Bell can help you best set your son or daughter up for success this fall, please contact your local Learning Centre.
Double Bay (02) 9328 7119 | Chatswood (02) 9410 1006