Monday, February 8, 2010

Getting Help for Struggling Kids

You know your child is struggling in math, reading, or both. Every night at the kitchen table, homework takes a lot of hard work, time and maybe some tears. Your child could have a learning disability: a disorder characterized by difficulty with certain skills in individuals with normal intelligence.

You request an evaluation for possible learning problems, but the teacher says your child is doing too well in school to warrent testing for learning disabilities (usually kids performing better than two years below grade level don't get assessed). But what about the kids who barely get by in class because their parents work so hard with them at home? I can't tell you how many times I've heard diligent parents complain that school personnel have refused to test kids that perform "well enough" at school.

Should conscientious parents stop helping their kids at home? NO!

First, take a look at a checklist on a reputable website to see if your child shows symptoms of someone who has a learning disability.

Next, if your child fits several of the descriptions mentioned on the checklist, request, in writing, that the school give your child a learning assessment. A private school may not test for learning disabilities, but they may offer resources to seek an evaluation. You may also visit the public schools' district office in your neighborhood. Most of the time, states require districts to administer tests to residents' children, regardless of whether kids attend public school.

Did you know a parent's written request to assess a child for learning disabilities at a public school means the school MUST test the child? The time frames and stipulations vary from state to state. Usually, upon receipt of your letter stating why you believe your child may have a learning difficulty, and why an evaluation is required to meet your child's needs, the school has to give parents a copy of their rights and responsibilities, and the child an evaluation within 60 days.

Finally, be sure to follow up with your child's teacher, the school or district administration. Since many parents don't know how the system works, kids with learning disabilities can fall through the cracks.

If you believe your child will benefit from a learning assessment, push the issue. Make sure it gets done. Due to your hard work at home, your child may be squeaking by in the classroom. That means, your child may not qualify for a pull-out program, usually one to two hours of small group instruction with a resource specialist, outside the classroom. That's OK. Sometimes kids are happier to stay in class with their peers than leave the room for different lessons. But knowing which learning obstacles your child faces will allow you and your child's teachers to come up with interventions that can be used both at home and at school to compensate for disabilities.

Check out your state's education website as well as your local school district for guidelines specific to your area.

If you have experiences with getting help for your child at school, positive or negative, please share them!!

1 comment:

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I think it's important for parents to know what their options are to help their child. The checklist is a good first step. And, followup is so necessary. While most schools are interested in your child's well-being, they may let things slip through the cracks. Parents must be diligent to ensure everything is being done to help their child.