Jeff Gordon runs www.landofbabies.com, an informational blog for moms and parents, and is also a single dad of a first grader. He offers these first four important signs that signal when your child might need help:
Gordon says, "Children don't always know why they're uncomfortable, but you can bet that they don't like discomfort. If something is going wrong in school, they'll fidget, run around and do anything to avoid a conversation about it."
If your normally independent child starts becoming more dependent on you, there could be a problem in school. Gordon says, "Children that aren't doing well academically or socially in school (particularly young children) will develop a new sense of neediness with mom and dad. This needs to be investigated right away."
Watch closely for an increase in aggression, Gordon suggests. He says, "If your young child is becoming aggressive, there is something irritating them. This is particularly true if the intensity of their moodiness occurs right before or after school."
While it's hard to believe that children can get depressed, Gordon says this can certainly be a sign that your child is struggling in school. He says, "Yes, children can get depressed. If you notice that your child's energy level has changed particularly around school time, then it's time to investigate the circumstances."
Tanya Mitchell, mother of four children, a cognitive skills training expert, and vice president of research and development for LearningRx.com, says, "The root cause of many learning struggles is weak cognitive skills. These underlying mental tools make up IQ and include memory, attention, logic and reasoning, visual and auditory processing and processing speed. Signs of weak cognitive skills include difficulty paying attention or focusing; low test scores, grades or reading comprehension; frustration with learning tasks; poor memory; trouble remembering multi-step directions at school or home; taking a long time to complete tasks, tests and homework; careless mistakes, and anxiety over going to school or mystery illnesses on test days." If you suspect your child may be suffering in school due to a cognitive weakness, go to LearningRx.com for a free online evaluation.
Communication and knowledge of what your child should be able to master at his/her age level are two keys to help to determine if your child is falling behind in school, according to Jennifer Brannon, a special education teacher for a virtual public school. She says, "Communicate with your child's teacher and let them know you desire the same in return. Google the educational standards covered by your child's state/grade to get an idea of what they should be able to master last year, this year and next year. If you're working closely with your child and reviewing homework, you'll see where they are falling short."
Jolyn Brand, an independent education consultant, mom of four and a former teacher with a Masters degree, says parents should not delay if they suspect their child may be struggling in school. She says, "Too many parents wait until the 'signs' of failure have already caused the child too much frustration. At this point, getting the child motivated and engaged is the first battle. Instead, parents should seek help at the first signs of struggle, which include frustration every evening during homework time, papers coming home with failing grades or constant 're-dos,' or the child expressing that he just doesn't 'get it'. The child's teacher should be the first source for help. If he or she can't offer private assistance, an independent tutor or tutoring center can help the child get back on track."
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