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Signs of learning and school difficulty

As you looked at the dimensions of learning, you saw your child’s ability, attitude and skills combine to determine whether he succeeds in school. Now look at the most common signs of learning and school difficulties. You learn how to evaluate how well your child is doing and what types of problems he or she may be having. You then look at each of these signs in more detail, including thinking about how you can help your child if you see signs of learning and school adjustment problems.

Think about these questions. They get at common signs of learning and school problems. As you consider each question, ask yourself if your child ever has the problem. If not, go to the next question. If he or she sometimes has the problem, put a check mark beside the question and then go to the next question. Repeat the process until you have thought about each question.

Does your child

*     Have trouble making good choices and decisions?

*     Have problems expressing his thoughts and ideas?

*     Have trouble doing things most children his age do easily?

*     Have difficulty understanding school assignments and what teachers expect?

*     Have trouble understanding what he reads?

*     Get confused about what he is doing, what people expect or what people are saying?

*     Find trying harder does not lead to his homework and other assignments getting better and easier?

*     Do some assignments very well and others very badly?

*     Forget to do homework or have trouble remembering what was assigned?

*     Have difficulty following instructions and directions?

*     Have a problem paying attention to time or managing time?

*     Get bad grades?

*     Have trouble asking for help or letting anyone help?

*     Have difficulty accepting or dealing with criticism?

*     Always have excuses for not doing well?

*     Think his not doing well is someone else’s fault?

*     Have to have an adult standing over him to get him to do his school work?

*     Feel teachers and other adults at school have it in for him?

*     Disrupt the classroom or the activities of other children?

*     Make no effort to cooperate and get along?

*     Skip school or miss school a lot?

Did you spot any problems? If not, your child is likely doing quite well in school. Be pleased with him or her and also pleased with yourself. Your hard work and effort are paying off nicely for both of you.

It is more likely you spotted some signs of difficulty. Most children are having some problems needing attention. The problems may be mild and within the normal ups-and-downs of children and school. Nonetheless, they require your help today to prevent more serious problems tomorrow. They also may be even more alarming. If so, start working with your child on them now or you can be sure they will become very serious tomorrow.

If you have spotted some problems, do this. Reconsider the questions where you made a check mark. For those questions, put a 1, 2 or 3 next to the question. A 1 means you see the problem once in a great while. For those problems, talk with your child about your concern and then watch for a couple weeks to see if things get better. They usually do.

Put a 2 beside the question if you notice the problem more than once a month. For those problems, talk with your child about your concern and also mention it to his or her teacher.

If you cannot stop by school, call her at school or in the evening. The school office has her number or can make arrangements for her to call you. Teachers normally want to hear from you. If you cannot get in touch with the teacher, call the principal at your child’s school. Follow any suggestions you get from the folks at school.

Put a 3 beside any question that identifies a problem you see once a week or more. Something is definitely wrong. Also, talk with your child’s teacher. Just remember this. Something more is wrong than is fixed by merely telling your child to pay more attention, listen better, study more, or work harder. All of these are ways of blaming your child for having the problem. He needs to take his share of responsibility for things getting better; but you and the people at school need to do your share of the work too. It takes all of you to help him. It is not just his problem. Each of you must take responsibility for what’s wrong.

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