Well, it’s that time of year again. This week and next, children will be returning to school after a long summer break. Since it really hasn’t felt much like summer around these parts the last few weeks, perhaps some kids are ready to return more than their parents are ready for them to return!
Anyway, it’s a good idea to use the next few days to do a little preparation and set the stage for a successful school year. This is especially true for those children who are not efficient learners — in other words, students who have some problems with cognitive processing and/or organization that make school more difficult than it is for efficient learners, or so-called “good students”. The fact is that even students with learning disabilities are often “very good students,” if they get consistent academic coaching at home and academic support and accommodations at school. Most work very hard at doing well in school and want to succeed academically while fitting into their social sphere.
The diagnosis of learning disability often occurs when a threshold of disorganization and dysfunctional processing (or “executive dysfunction”) is reached. But there are even more students without that LD diagnosis (below the threshold to make a diagnosis) who still have some obstacles to efficient processing and organization, enough to make paying attention and learning in school difficult. These are the kids who don’t have IEP’s (Individualized Educational Plans), or in-school tutoring, or medications to help their attentiveness. Still, they struggle. School becomes a drag, homework doesn’t get done, parents and teachers blame poor grades on “laziness,” and the unsuccessful school career is self-fulfilled.
“Gifted” students receive IEP’s, usually learn very efficiently, and tend to do very well in school. Students with learning disabilities also receive IEP’s, get support to improve their learning efficiency, and also tend to do very well (again, if parents and schools are attuned to their learning differences and provide the proper supports). It’s the students in the middle of the pack who may be struggling. They are not lazy. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that they are not very good at school. They’d rather be doing something else (something they tend to be very good at!). Some of these kids do “okay” in school, get “decent” grades, maybe want to go to college (or maybe not). These are kids who really need their parents to be effective academic coaches — helping them stay organized and focused on the tasks at hand.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has some ideas to get your student off to a good start this year in school with “Six Ways to Get Your Child Back Into the Learning Groove.” Whether they are great learners, learn differently, or, like the rest, are somewhere in the middle, I hope these tips will be helpful!
1. Reestablish bedtime routines a few weeks before school starts.
2. Work with your child to prepare a homework schedule and location in advance.
3. With your child, collect and organize the necessary supplies.
4. Review basic academic material to get your child refocused on learning.
5. Build excitement about the first week of school!
6. Read books together about going back to school.
Read the details at NCLD.org.
Previous posts regarding learning disabilities on The PediaBlog here.