My first-grader is not doing well in school. His teacher says he's a good kid,
not disruptive, but not a standout student, either. I worry that he may be falling
behind. How can I help him succeed? – Kate
It's great that you're addressing this problem now, while your child is just beginning
his schooling. Kids who struggle in school year after year have a harder time getting
back on track once their learning problems are addressed.
You need to get to the root of the problem to learn how to help your son. Ask yourself:
Does he struggle to see the blackboard? He could need glasses.
Is he anxious about going to school? Maybe there's an emotional issue. It
is hard for him to sit still and focus? He could have a problem paying attention.
Talk to your son and his teacher to see what may be getting in the way of learning.
Then, schedule an appointment with:
His principal. Tell your child's principal about your concerns
and request a referral for an educational evaluation. An educational evaluation can
assess your son's strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint any learning disabilities.
When you know why your son is struggling, take steps to help support him. Some
kids with learning differences meet with a tutor for a few hours a week to reinforce
material and learn study skills. Others may benefit from seeing a psychologist for
behavioral concerns, or take medicines if attention problems make it hard to focus
If needed, your school's special education committee will develop a 504
education plan or individualized
education program (IEP). These identify a student's needs and outline goals and
services to help the student learn. These plans may include extra help or resource
room support, or recommend the use of special equipment, such as books on tape or
laptop computers for students who have dyslexia.
With the right support, your child can adjust to any differences he may have and
succeed in school.