Back to School Survival Guide for Parents of a Child Who Struggles

If you are a parent of a child who struggles in school, Back to School time lacks the excitement that other families might experience. While all parents have some concerns when it’s time for school to start again, when a child has a history of struggling in school, emotions may be exceptionally strong. Back to School time for parents of children who struggle is a time of anxiety and justifiable concerns. However, often there is also that glimmer of hope, that this is going to be that year when “he suddenly gets it,” or maybe “this will be the teacher that gets through to her.” There are specific things a parent should do in preparation for the start of a new school year to get started in the best possible direction.

Talk to the teacher

Teachers appreciate a friendly call from parents to let them know about strengths and specific needs. Also, if done correctly it can set the stage for a positive interaction between parent and teacher that lasts all year.
Do’s and Dont’s about talking to the teacher:
  • Do keep the conversation brief. Although there may be many things you want to say, focus on the most important and let the other issues come out throughout the year as the need arises. This will help the teacher remember the most important information.
  • Don’t call the teacher during summer break. Teachers need their break and they may not be as focused during the summer. He or she is more likely to remember the specifics of your conversation if you wait until the teacher workdays a few days before the children return.
  • Do let the teacher know a specific strength of your child.  Be careful not to focus only on the needs.
  • Do not criticize previous teachers. Last year’s teacher may be her best friend. It’s not a good idea to talk about what other teachers did wrong. Instead let her know what worked well and styles that didn’t work well, leaving out specific names or references.
  • Do let the teacher know that you are interested in being a partner with him or her to help your child succeed.

Help yback-to-school_Lydia_750our child get involved in an activity.

Children who struggle, as well as their parents can become very consumed in what the child does not do well. The child spends the entire day doing something that is very difficult and then often comes home and hears about it from the parents. When there is another activity that he or she can be successful in, it provides a sense of confidence. It shifts the focus away from the perceived failure and broadens one’s perspective about life. After all, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Academics, while important, are not the only thing a child can succeed in. Getting involved in an activity can also keep a child connected to school, and become more well rounded, when academics alone would not.

Do’s and Don’ts about getting your child involved in an activity:

  • Do encourage an activity that will redirect some of his or her frustration. When a student struggles in reading and all of the focus is on reading, it can be overwhelming and harmful to self esteem.
  • Don’t push your child into an activity that will require so much time, that studying will have to take a back seat. This activity is not to replace academics.
  • Do let your child choose the activity or at least have equal rights in this decision.  It defeats the purpose to push a sport or an activity that is not exciting to the child.

Other ideas to consider

  • Write a one page summary of the IEP accommodations.
  • See if you can bring your child to view the room a day or so early to ease anxiety.
  • Consider using Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils in the Classroom.

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