You find parent-teacher meetings a dread. Each term you return and hear your child’s class teacher give the same feedback about your child and you wonder why your child is not progressing like his other classmates. You know that you’ve done more than enough to provide your child with the best quality of education that he/she could possibly need.
What could have gone wrong? Before you start blaming yourself or even worse, your child, for his own lack of success in the classroom – take a step back and reconsider 4 of these possible reasons as to why your child’s learning performance has been on a steady decline:
1- Delays in Learning
Focus on the word ‘delay’. What does that word mean to you? Commonly, the word ‘delay’ is associated with words like ‘slow’, ‘late’ or ‘behind’. Now, I want you to dismiss these associations and attach the word ‘delay’ with ‘learning pace’. Keep that in mind.
Now, delays in learning can occur as at any point of your child’s growth. Whenever it happens, the most important thing to understand is that each child learns at his or her own pace. Think of it as your child’s own learning preference.
Every child is unique and not all children pick up and retain information the same. Children with learning delays may exhibit setbacks in any of the following areas:
- Language or speech
- Motor skills
- Social and emotional skills
- Cognitive skills
It is very important that you recognise whether your child exhibits delays in any of these areas, so you,as his/her parent, are able to take the necessary steps or intervention needed to provide your child with the right assistance or education needs according to his/her specific area of delay.
Your child is also different from other children, so there is no need to be comparing your child with others. However, to know the aspects of development of each skill is significant for you to be able to grasp what the yardsticks are for children of your child’s age. If you find your child lacking in some areas, it may be time to seek external help.
2- Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities
Learning delays and learning disabilities are entirely different. “How so?” you may ask. Well, for certain, children with learning delays will eventually achieve the yardsticks of their age group just at a pace that is slower than the others.
Children with learning disabilities, however, cannot be placed within the same categories with other children as their learning needs are entirely different. Let me explain. There are three types of learning disabilities:
- Dyslexia: Difficulty with words
- Dysgraphia: Difficulty with writing
- Dyscalculia: Difficulty with calculations and mathematics
Each disability will affect different skills and academic areas such as literacy, numeracy, or visual-motor coordination. Listen to your child and observe whether he/she has expressed and shown any difficulty in any skills or academic areas. If you noticed that your child may experience any of the listed learning disabilities, don’t be afraid or embarrassed for it.
Bring your child to see a specialist, get him/her a proper diagnosis, and listen to what the expert will tell you on ways to help your child. A responsible parent cares for his/her child’s learning and so, the sooner you get your child diagnosed, the sooner you can decide on what kind of assistance your child will need.
Do know that there are plenty of options out there for each learning disability that will cater and provide the best for your child’s mental, physical, and social growth.
3- Problems at Home
Your child does not seem to be displaying any kind of learning delay or disability. So, what could it be? Reassess the environment in your home. Go over what has been happening in your life that might have inadvertently impacted your child.
Have you recently moved? Has your child recently lost a loved one? It could have been a pet or a family member. How is your relationship with your partner? Is your child part of a seperated family? Have you been so overwhelmed with work that you might have neglected your child?
These are the questions that you need to be asking in order to see what exactly has been going on that could have affected your child’s socio-emotional development, leading to a declined progress in school. If it is possible, approach your child and talk to him or her about it. You’d be surprised to see how much you’ll find out just from a simple conversation with your child.
4- Problems at School
If everything has been fine and dandy at home, then reexamine where your child has been spending most of his/her weekdays. yes , that’s right – school.
Approach your child’s classroom teacher and ask about your child’s behaviour in the classroom. Has he/she been getting along with friends? Does he/she speak up or participate in classroom discussions? Has he/she ever fallen asleep during lessons? Does he/she seem distracted and not focused most of the time?
Well, you need to ask the teacher to find out for you. Build a healthy relationship with your child’s teacher by constantly communicating with him/her. Find out what lessons your child is having difficulties with and what teaching and learning style is being implemented in the classroom such as 21st century learning or other strategies that you might know of to be able to assess whether your child is able to keep up with the teacher’s pace.
Ask the teacher to be frank with your child’s attitude in school and explain the problems that you think your child might be experiencing. It is also important to find out if there are cases of bullying in your child’s school as victims of bullying suffer detrimental effects that will disrupt their performance in school.
From all that I’ve listed above, it is safe to say that the key to finding out what has been keeping your child from performing at school is good communication and observation skills. Whatever your child is facing, you mustn’t leave him/her to face it alone. Early intervention is crucial in determining the state of your child’s future.