Dealing With Your Child's Academic Needs

With a new school year just begun, parents have a number of concerns to deal with.  For instance, how will my child adapt to a new class, with a new teacher and students?  Or, how can I become involved in his or her education and work with the new teacher? Another thing that parents may be considering is, how do I ensure that my child does well academically this year?

Given that this is the first week of school for most children, a child’s academic performance may not be the first thing on a parent’s mind. Typically, academic concerns are highlighted after the first report card arrives home some months from now. However, if you are aware of your child’s previous academic struggles, it may be wise to be pro-active and ensure that your child is receiving the academic support he or she needs right from the start.

The first thing to do is to give your child and his or her teacher some time to settle in and get to know each other. The first week can be stressful and overwhelming for everyone involved. Once you’ve given them a chance to settle, request a meeting with the teacher to go over your child’s academic skills and concerns. During that meeting, inquire about the resources available within that particular school system. If the resources your child needs are not available within your school board or if you feel that extra resources could benefit your child, then an after school tutor may be necessary.

If your child has already been assessed in previous years, you may already be familiar with the available resources. In this case, it is important to work with your child’s teacher and give a brief history of his or her educational career. While a teacher may be aware of your child, you are the only person that has been consistently involved in your child’s education from year to year. As such, you are your child’s best historian.

It is in everyone’s interest that you treat your child’s teacher respectfully. Begin with the premise that you are all working toward the same goal – to help your child perform to the best of their abilities. This does not mean that you shouldn’t have questions and advocate for your child. Particularly with young kids, advocacy is part of your job as a parent. Respectful advocacy provides important information to your child’s teacher and maintains good rapport.

When teachers have exhausted the resources available to them and little academic improvement is seen, a psycho-educational assessment is often the next step. A number of intellectual and memory factors may be underlying your child’s learning difficulties. Unearthing these issues can help educators by highlighting a child’s strengths and needs. For instance, if a child’s verbal memory is significantly better than their visual memory, it can help a teacher realize that talking will lead to better retention than simply showing or demonstrating something to a particular student.

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