Is a Learning Intervention Needed?
The beginning of the holiday season typically means the first conferences and report cards have come and gone. There’s a familiarity with the classroom routine, work expectations, and student-teacher dynamic. For some, learning concerns are now in the forefront. As the impact of these concerns becomes more observable, it is important to consider alternatives. After all, the sooner learning issues are identified and addressed, the sooner a child can be on the path towards success. There is still time for a learning intervention to help your child achieve his/her learning potential this year.
Questions to Ask
Has the first part of the school year gone as expected? Is your child managing his or her work load and understanding lesson content or regularly expressing uncertainty about what was learned or assigned? Are challenges limited to school or a particular subject? Are these difficulties new or were there also concerns in past grade levels? Does homework time usually go smoothly or has it become a stressful part of everyone’s day? Do grades on tests and assignments seem to reflect your child’s knowledge and the time and effort spent preparing for each?
We know that a child who does well socially and academically may still experience anxiety about specific events or tasks. However, frustrated learners often dread situations, like reading aloud, handing in an assignment or receiving a grade, so much that the stress is palpable. It can mean lack of sleep or avoidance, by means of not turning in work or finding reasons to miss school or class. Perhaps frequent trips to the school nurse for ailments that can’t be confirmed, and immediately feeling fine once home. Losing focus and acting out are also ways students cope with anxiety. If your child seems overly apprehensive about school on a regular basis, talk to his/her teacher. Discuss behaviors, patterns, and potential causes; academic and social. Significant, recurring anxiety is an important indicator that action is needed.
Nightly homework can take a struggling learner 2-3 times longer to complete than expected. If your child tries to focus and participate in class, but multiple assignments have resulted in tears or frustration despite access to the appropriate information and resources, there may be an underlying concern. The same is true if the challenges have been continuous, despite one on one assistance or differing strategies. Most students will have occasional difficulty understanding a concept or completing work on time. But consistent challenges signal the need to investigate further and intervene.
The amount of support a child receives in and out of the classroom is another important factor. Most teachers will automatically present information in a variety of ways and make accommodations based on individual learning styles. If a student is receiving additional support like tutoring, small group or pull out instruction, or additional time, yet still not making gains, it is likely time to re-evaluate the student’s needs. An underlying concern may need to be addressed before instructional modifications can be effective.
If you suspect a learning issue is impacting progress at home or school, talk to someone. Your child’s teacher is a great place to start, but other parents are also a wonderful resource. If other students in your child’s grade haven’t experienced similar difficulties, chances are they have a sibling, friend or family member who has. Often parents, who’ve gone through the process of identifying a learning issue, can provide valuable information. They could help you determine next steps or whether or not to seek a professional assessment. Depending on the specific concerns, specialists, such as audiologists, speech and language pathologists, or educational psychologists can also offer helpful information about your child’s needs and perform formal evaluations.
Once you have more information about the cause, take action. Continuing with more of the same will likely yield the same results. On the other hand, even a small change can offer tremendous potential. Teachers, parents, and other professionals can recommend options. However, it’s also best to research alternatives thoroughly before deciding. There are an abundance of learning interventions available that can be completed at-home or through regular visits to a local clinician or learning center.
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