Is This Your Child?
Parents are frequently confused by the behavior of their children that may be triggered by school-based learning difficulties. Their children often display these behaviors at home when confronted with school assignments, tests, and projects. Parents repeatedly witness the frustration, anxiety, and apprehension about school-related tasks that their children exhibit from initiation of the task to completion.
This booklet gives parents the opportunity to identify various learning issues and behaviors that educators often see in the classroom. It can act as a guide to parents whose children exhibit behaviors consistent with children who have learning disabilities, ADHD, and speech and language disorders. It can also serve to bridge the gap between the school and the home by demystifying the areas of concerns educators observe in school and parents witness at home.
By recognizing and identifying specific learning issues and behaviors, parents can use this information to discuss their observations with their children’s’ teachers, promoting a dialogue that can lead to appropriate academic interventions and accommodations. When parents become familiar and comfortable with their understanding of their children’s’ learning issues, formal diagnostic assessment and appropriate school placement will be more effective.
Listed below are typical behaviors exhibited by exceptional students that educators typically observe in their classrooms every day:
- Anxiety About Academic Performance. Performance anxiety can interfere with the learning process as students tend to shut down and not ‘hear’ what is being presented. They also need sustained guidance in preparing for assignments and tests.
- Anxiety During Academic Transitions. Settling into class and transitioning from one task to another can provoke uncertainty and a disconnect in the learning process. Students may present as ill-prepared for class and appear unable to begin the class period.
- Attending to Academic Task. Students lose focus and begin side talks with peers. They appears to daydream and then ‘re-enter’ the discussion. They are unable to transition from one part of the lesson to another. There is a visible disconnect from directions to execution of tasks.
- Auditory Integration. Difficulty putting together what the student ‘hears’ to create a ‘picture’ of what is being presented. This creates problems in listening comprehension when the material being presented is sophisticated and multi-layered.
- Auditory Working Memory and Retrieval Difficulties. Lecture-based classes will present difficulty for some students in processing and integrating information.
- Computational Accuracy. Students are consistently unable to mentally manipulate number facts in their head. There is miscalculation of basic number facts and automaticity is undeveloped. However, conceptual understanding of numerical operation is intact.
- Decoding Skills. Difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words and reading with expression. Reading rate, accuracy, and fluency all underdeveloped, despite student’s being capable of discerning the content of the text.
- Executive Functioning. Difficulty planning a series of steps to solve a problem or orchestrate the initiation and completion of an assignment. Difficulty drawing inferences and processing abstract concepts.
- Expressive Language Difficulty. Undeveloped vocabulary and linguistic skills do not allow ideas to be verbally expressed with ease or in detail. Contributions to conversations and written production are limited and unsophisticated.
- Immature Social-Emotional Development. Social adaptation among peers and faculty is underdeveloped. Limited ability to accept constructive criticism or work positively with peers. Not open to compromise and has difficulty accepting different perspectives.
- Immature Social Judgment. Age-appropriate social interactions with peers are underdeveloped and often disruptive. Not able to pick up on social cues and comments.
- Information Overload. Difficulty producing and performing work due to the multi-level demands of quantity and content.
- Listening Skills. Difficulty remaining connected during class discussions. Difficulty processing and assimilating information that is verbally presented. Difficulty filtering out what is not important when information is being presented orally.
- Mathematical Conceptual Understanding. Computational executions of basic math calculations are intact, but the student lacks the conceptual understanding of what is being presented.
- Organization/Time Management. Difficulty organizing notes and papers in a notebook as well as assessing how much time an assignment will take. Has a hard time negotiating school work independently.
- Processing Speed. Reduced productivity in completing assignments in timely fashion.
- Reading Comprehension Skills. Avoids reading assigned text. Difficulty making interpretive analysis of reading material. Misses salient points of text and often unable to follow written directions.
- Receptive Language Difficulties. The words alone will not yield accurate representation of the concepts being presented in class. Students will be unable to create mental images from words when orally presented.
- Rote Memorization. Difficulty learning tasks that involve numbers, spelling patterns, and memorization.
- Slow Reading Rate. Difficulty keeping up with the reading demands of several content- based classes.
- Visual Problem Solving. Difficulty analyzing relationships when information is presented spatially. Creating mental images from stories, math patterns, or science experiments is really hard.
- Working Memory. A disconnect in processing and holding onto information that is being presented. Demonstrates difficulty with tasks that require internal manipulation or organization of information.
- Written Language Skills. Difficulty relaying ideas in an organized and concise manner. Vocabulary use is simple and ideas presented are simplistic. Summaries of content material are underdeveloped and without direction.
A Note to Parents
It is important to remember how difficult it is for some children to navigate and negotiate their school day. By identifying and understanding your child’s strengths and vulnerabilities, you may conclude that the guidance of an educational consultant will be beneficial, providing you with professional advice and the resources for intervention or placement into or within an appropriate educational setting.
As a learning specialist and educator who has worked with children and adolescents for more than three decades, I know how to read the results of neuropsychological and psychoeducational evaluations and how to recommend to classroom teachers effective teaching strategies based on your child’s evaluations. I also know how to advise and assist parents in their search for appropriate school placements for the exceptional child.
Parents of children who are at an academic, social and emotional crossroad with regard to their individual performance and functioning level often need additional guidance in how to move forward. The task of finding an appropriate educational setting and placement can be daunting. But having an educational consultant, who is also a learning specialist, can be of great assistance.
An educational consultant will walk you through the process from a review of your child’s present level of educational performance, to the creation of a plan of action commensurate with the needs of your child, to exploring alternative educational options to advising on appropriate day and boarding school placements and post graduate programs.
For further information and a continuation of exploring your child’s individual needs, contact Dana Stahl at Educational Alternatives LLC.