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Friday, October 4, 2013

Ask a Teacher: What Do I Do If my Child Is "Struggling"

Today, Emilie from Teaching Ain't For Heroes gets personal. She talks about what parents should remember should their kids get a "struggling" assessment in a certain area during the early grades.

I received my son's first report card. As a teacher, I've prided myself on knowing how to teach and when to teach various things. My first fieldwork experience was with kindergarteners (22 of them), so even though I teach high school, I felt that I had experiences that could help me teach my son.

My son received all checks and his report started out glowing. His teacher talked about how he was sweet and hardworking. She said that sometimes he's disruptive with talking, but he's easily corrected.

And then she said that he was struggling with printing and letter sounds. My pride took a hit with that word "struggling" because I know what that word means in my teacher jargon. In my classroom, I use struggling for kids who are below grade level and in danger of being left behind. I don't use struggling lightly. Struggling is for kids who are missing basic skills necessary to master standards.

It stung. I've been doing everything right. We read every night. He practices writing at home. We always do his homework (yes, homework in preschool!). He loves learning. He loves playing school. He's said he wants to be a teacher, just like me.

But he's struggling.

The idea of a range of normal is just that, a range. There's early readers and late readers and kids who fall somewhere in the middle of that enormous spectrum.

Not every kid can be advanced and perfect at everything they do. It's hard to accept that your child isn't the best in their peer group.

Despite my son's struggles in the first term of preschool, it's unlikely that he'll struggle in the same way that many of the students I have known do. He may not be an early reader like I was, but that doesn't mean that I have failed in someway. Every kid is different and will learn at their own pace.

As parents, it's so easy to get hung up on the successes of our children that we forget that they are individuals who don't need to be measured against their peers.

The fact that so many of us Facebook craft our children's lives so that they appear perfect doesn't help. Hey, I'm guilty. I held my phone just right so that the part about disruption and my son's struggles wasn't visible when I posted a picture of his report to Facebook. When you find yourself feeling down on yourself as a parent, remember that just out of frame, others' lives aren't perfect either.


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