A new school year is full of opportunities for growth and new learning. But for children who struggle with learning disabilities, it can also be overwhelming.
The new academic year has been underway for several weeks, and most families are settling into their back-to-school routines and are ready to take on the more demanding responsibilities the school year brings. For children with learning disabilities, however, this transition can be a lot more difficult making the first few weeks stressful and trying.
All children need love, encouragement, and support. For kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help them emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.
Mighty Mommy has three children with learning disabilities—two who have successfully graduated from high school and gone on to college. Here are five ways you can be supportive and help your child thrive in and out of the classroom this year.
Tip #1: Make Your Home a Comfort Zone
When kids who have learning disabilities walk out the door from their homes and head out into their “school world” every day, they leave behind their comfortable turf where they can usually be relaxed. They now must enter into an atmosphere where they don’t feel as adequate and have to “hold it together” for six or more hours as they navigate through their school day. We can’t control all of the factors that happen outside of our homes, but we can create a positive and safe environment while they are at home. Making a conscious effort to keep the home fires burning with peace, love and comfort is one enormous way families can support their child who has learning disabilities. See Also: 8 Ways To Create A Fulfilling Life With Your Special Needs Child
Tip #2: Assess the Overall Picture
Whether you’ve just learned your child has a learning disability or you’ve known for a few years, keep things in perspective. A learning disability isn’t insurmountable. Remind yourself that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your child how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy, and endless paperwork distract you from what’s really important—giving your child plenty of emotional and moral support.
Become your own expert. Stay abreast of the particular learning struggles your child faces by researching new developments in learning disability programs, outside therapies, and educational techniques. Although teachers, specialists and even your pediatrician will be very helpful and tremendous resources to you and your family, remember that you know your child better than any of these folks, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools he or she needs in order to learn.
Tip #3: Be an Advocate for Your Child at School
You may have to speak up time and time again to get additional help for your child. I know I did with my three kids who had definite learning needs. However, I decided early on that I was going to be a proactive parent who would advocate for my kids so that their needs were reasonably met. The way I chose to do this was by building a positive relationship with their schools in all ways possible. I got to know the office staff, their individual teachers, and the resource team on a very personal level. I took the time to send handwritten notes throughout the year when I wanted to thank them for things that were going well and I physically made appearances throughout the year, even if it was to drop off paperwork in person rather than sending it in my child’s backpack. This helped in more ways than one so that when there was a problem that needed to be addressed, I felt comfortable and the team went out of their way to make sure my child’s needs were being met. My kids also were aware that I had this presence amongst their school environment so it helped them relax more because they knew we were all on the same page. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child. See Also: Building a Strong Parent-Teacher Relationship