Try harder

try harder

Last week I shared a poignant blog posting from a mother of a child with autism.  It spurred me to think, once again, what students with learning disabilities face every moment of their lives.

As parents or educators, we want to encourage them to do their best, but all too often, our cheer leading becomes a nagging voice that gets tuned out, or worse…

A new school year is upon us, and that creates anxiety, both on the child’s part as well as the parent’s.  It is too easy to fall into the habit of telling your child or student to try harder, when in fact, the student is most likely working at capacity.  Keep in mind that learning can be painful, sometimes even physically painful, for a student with a learning disability.


Following are some tips to help you ease your child into another school year and hopefully make it better for all!

* Don’t tell your child to try harder. Instead, use a reward system that is tied into effort, not achievement.

* Take your child to school ahead of time and make an appointment to not only meet the teacher, but tour the school and find out where the classroom is, the gym, etc., even if your child has been currently attending that school.

* Don’t put too much pressure on your student, such as, “This is the year you will get straight A’s,” or any other difficult measure to achieve.

* If your child is struggling, don’t think that the learning difference will go away just because the teacher or school is fantastic.  If your child was struggling last year, unless there has been intensive intervention, not much is going to change.

* Talk to the teacher and school staff ahead of time and make a plan for success for your child.  Don’t wait until report card time and then find out something isn’t going right.

* Set up a communication system regarding home work and other expectations with the teacher, such as email, text, or phone, as soon as possible.  Don’t be shy about intervening or disturbing the staff.  Your child should be your first priority.

* Make sure that your child isn’t starting off with hours of home work every night.  This isn’t healthy for you or the child, and school districts usually have guidelines that should be followed.  Check on those guidelines, and follow through with making sure your child is allowed to be a child.

* Volunteer in the classroom as soon as possible so that you can get a reading on what is going on.  It only takes an hour or so, and it can make a huge difference, not only to your child, but to the teacher as well.

* Listen to your child.  If she has stomach aches and is stressed out, then she isn’t thriving.  If he is acting up or withdrawing, then something is wrong.  Only you, as the parent, can step in and advocate for your child.


There are many other things that you can do.  Just remember; children almost always want to do well.  They want to get good grades, make their teacher happy, and please their parents!


Best wishes


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