Why wait to get help for your struggling student?



Why do parents wait to help their struggling kids?

Kids want to please; they do not do poorly in school to annoy their parents.

As a parent of three, I thought I knew what I was doing. I asked questions about my child’s poor results, and about how to help and what to do.

We were told, “oh she’s a good student; she will get it if she keeps trying.” Well try as she might, she continued to struggle. Her grades were not good, and her self-esteem kept declining because she thought she wasn’t smart. That was 25 years ago.

We now know that when a student tries and their results do not reflect their effort, then there is something wrong. When it comes to reading, this is what parents should remember: they learn to read up until Grade 3; after that, they read to learn.

If a child is still struggling, by Grade 3, to decode words and has trouble reading fluently (without hesitations or pauses) especially if they have seen the words before; when a child has trouble spelling words and they just don’t seem to get them right, no matter how much effort they put into learning them, that should prompt parents to look for help.

Yes, sometimes a tutor can be beneficial, but at this young age they should not need a tutor to learn basic reading skills.

Reading is the essential skill required for learning. You may think: oh, they can learn with the help of audio books, tablets and other devices, but reading is still an essential skill. Your child will need their reading skills to do math problems, learn history, learn their driver’s ed manual and read their first contract.

A child having trouble reading does not mean they are not smart; they usually are of above-average intelligence because they have learned coping strategies. Science tells us that the brain can change, thanks to neuroplasticity (I could go on forever about this).

So, if your child is struggling, listen to your gut. Look for help — it’s out there. Ask your paediatrician, psychologist and other learning professionals.

When children’s self-esteem, confidence and self-worth shrinks every time they try and fail, why do we wait to help them?

Karen van Doorn was in the education field for 26 years and has her own intervention clinic to help those with learning difficulties. She is certified as a Tomatis Practitioner, Cellfield Reading Intervention Provider, an Interactive Metronome Provider and is certified to practise DIR/Floortime.