This start of the school year does not go as usual, sometimes filled with health demands, worries or unknowns. For children with learning difficulties who were receiving specialized services or additional educational support until last March, this return may even seem brutal. After this hiatus of several months of classes, homework and lessons, how better to help children who are struggling at school?
Vigilance rather than anxiety
For students who usually benefit from special and essential support for their development (reading, French, mathematics, etc.), it is quite normal for parents to be worried when classes resume. If the parent must remain alert, however, too much anxiety could prove to be paralyzing when the worst is anticipated, and parents must remember that there are means available to support and help their children.
Spot red flags so you can act quickly
Sometimes, slowly but surely, things kick back into place during the first few weeks of school. However, certain signs linked to learning problems are not mistaken in children, and you must know how to recognize them in order to be able to intervene more quickly and effectively: insomnia or restless sleep, excessive nervousness, frequent anger, refusal to speak or to go back to school. school the next day. To this can be added stomach or headaches, loss of appetite, or even extreme fatigue.
Dialogue and listen to the child
As they may increase difficulties in school, these manifestations may reflect a discomfort that children cannot always identify and name, hence the importance of talking openly with them. Without putting words in their mouths or bombarding them with questions, children should be able to express themselves freely, and without undue pressure. And nothing better than to be interested in what they are doing, to practice an activity that they enjoy, or to involve them in family tasks, cooking for example, to create a moment conducive to confidences.
Teachers and school employees: valuable allies for academic success
Regular discussion and a relationship of trust must also be established between the parent and the classroom teacher, professionals and other school employees. First, to get to know another facet of children’s daily life during school hours, to benefit from as much information as possible to draw up a complete picture of the situation, and thus to act effectively. Working in collaboration avoids the duplication of interventions, ensures a real follow-up of learning, thus giving children more space and time to continue to be children … And parents to breathe a little, at the end of the day.
In addition, those who establish a constructive exchange with teachers and principals will be well aware of the tools and staff available. Parents can also use resources (such as Alloprof, Télé-Québec, etc.), and those granted by the Quebec Ministry of Education, for example.
Surround yourself well … and be patient
You also need to know how to surround yourself well to better help the child learn at school, and not be afraid to delegate certain tasks, such as homework help, for example. A parent may call on the child’s sister or older brother, a relative, a guardian or a professional, especially for matters in which the parent would be less comfortable.
Faced with a learning disability that has become more severe in a child who returns to school, the task will appear heavier and some parents will get involved enormously to change things, and sometimes excessively. This puts a lot on the shoulders of children who might fear failure in the face of too high expectations. These troubles of all kinds cannot go away overnight. Parents will need to keep the child motivated, be patient, and understand that changes and improvements will take place step by step.
Cultivate the pleasure of learning
Without striving for perfection at all costs, the parent can help the child cope better with his difficulties and compensate for the delay caused by the pandemic. The parent will also be able to build on the child’s strengths and curiosity so that he thereby rediscovers … all the pleasure of learning.