Janine, is a sweet 8-year-old child.
She is charming, bubbly, spontaneous and fun to be around. Janine is also struggling at school and the gap is widening between where other children are in her grade level and the reality of where she is developmentally in reading. Janine is at a much lower level than the work she receives every day. As her mother states, “She’s at 5,000 feet and they’re teaching her at 50,000 feet.” Her mother is on the money.
Tim, a 13-year-old eighth grader, is making his parents hair turn gray.
He says he cares about school, and wants to do well, but probably about 80% of his homework is not done. “I just don’t do the work,” he tells me honestly. “I hate homework and I just avoid it.”
Both Janine and Tim are real examples of school struggling children, the focus of these blogs. The following quote written by a pediatrician well acquainted with children’s school issues and the challenges faced by families, comes from the preface of my first book, “The Shut-Down Learner: Helping Your Academically Discouraged Child.” The quote captures the essence of what these blogs will be devoted to as we go forward.
“The “work” of childhood is navigating the waters of school.
For many reasons, not all children do well in school. When children struggle in school their whole family system is affected. From my perspective as a pediatrician, the child’s health is affected by their negative school experiences. Increased incidents of depression, anxiety and family turmoil are the common side-effects of school struggling. By the time the child is in his/her teens, it is often too late to break the downward spiraling.”
The goal of these blogs will be to talk to you, parents and educators, in plain, down-to-earth language to offer perspective, hope and guidance and some solutions. There are rarely easy fixes with school struggling, but it is hoped that the more that you understand your child and the issues involved the smoother you can make the road for your child.
Dr. Richard Selznick is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.