Have you ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach as you drive to pick up your child from school? You ask yourself, did she transition well today? Did he play with the other children? Will the teacher bring him out to the car with reports of another "bad" day?
Concern that your pre-school child may be different than his peers may surface as immature behavior when comparing him with other similarly aged children. While others are building with blocks, drawing and coloring shapes, learning to write their name, and utilizing language during interactive play, you notice or hear from the teacher that your child hangs back or is somehow performing differently than the others.
At a parent conference you hear that your fourth grader is behind in reading, spelling, or math, or that she avoids writing. You wonder how that happened. She's had a tutor and summer school to help get through the year, but homework has become a nightmare. "I can't do it! I hate school!," she says each night. Without your physical presence and assistance, your child will have to face the next day with work undone. The spiral of compounded homework begins. You ask yourself, "Why does my daughter have such problems with her homework? She is smart. Her friends don't seem to mind doing their homework ...."
Your child's teacher calls in the middle of the week to tell you that your third grader is acting silly, can't sit still at his desk and has a negative attitude. His teacher suggests that you have him evaluated for ADHD since he is too social and is very disorganized. Will he need medication? You always thought that he would grow out of his immaturity....
Then there are children who survive fairly well during their elementary school years. Basic reading, math, and social skills are evident. Spelling may be a sore subject but manageable with spell check. Written expression remains simplistic, but growing expectations for a more organized, grade appropriate product create avoidance and frustration. As the school years pass, you notice similar comments on report cards including reminders to work harder, pay attention, be organized, follow directions the first time, or remember to write down assignments. The dynamics among family members are becoming strained. Your child with issues seems to take up all of your time after school. You have no energy for the other siblings who are doing fine academically and socially. There are disagreements between you and your spouse on how to handle your child who doesn't "fit in."
Because you want to protect your child, the message often becomes one of lower expectations. He learns helplessness, passivity, dependence, and avoidance. These children, who have what are often referred to as remnants of earlier learning problems, need help. Without appropriate, timely intervention, these are the students for whom interest in school, confidence in taking on new challenges, readiness to make good social choices and judgment, and a healthy self-esteem may be elusive.
We believe that children who are struggling to learn are as "normal" as any other children, and if assistance and encouragement are needed for a few years, they should receive it.
Please continue reading. If you do, you just may find that The Pilot School, where we challenge the Myth of Normal
, is the perfect place for your child!