Is your child showing signs that he or she may be struggling in school?
- Poor or declining grades
- Negative attitude about school, homework, or friends
- Difficulty with or refusal to complete work
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
- Sudden misbehavior or relational challenges
While there are many reasons why a child may be struggling in school, this article will focus on three possible reasons:
- Undiagnosed learning disability
- The classroom environment
Undiagnosed Learning Disability
If your child is struggling in school compared to school-age peers and has experienced any of the challenges presented above, you may consider asking for an evaluation for a learning disability. Undiagnosed learning disabilities are one the most common reasons a child is struggling with age – appropriate learning.
While sometimes a teacher or school psychologist is the first to bring up potential learning disabilities, they are often missed and go undiagnosed, especially in girls. It’s common for educators and parents to feel that a specific struggle isn’t yet “serious enough” to warrant a screening or an evaluation, and parent concerns may be dismissed.
If you have concerns about your child, the first step is to speak to a trusted friend about your concerns, as well as your child’s teacher. Focus on how long you’ve been concerned, specific areas that have been a challenge, how these challenges are hindering learning (remember, emotional challenges like anxiety are a reason to get an evaluation!). Do these challenges present themselves outside of school and if so, do they look different in different environments?
It’s important to know that it’s the parent’s or guardian’s legal right to request an educational evaluation at any time from the school, regardless if the school or teachers believes there is an issue. The request should be made in writing and emailed to the school principal and teacher. Homeschooling families can email the school principal of their nearest locally-zoned district school. Under federal law, the school has 45 days to respond and schedule the evaluation.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders that can co-exist with learning disabilities; however, this diagnosis itself is not a learning disability. Children with an academic disability diagnosis may also benefit from an evaluation for ADHD. Kids with ADHD may:
- Have difficulty paying attention
- Struggle to control impulsive behaviors (for example, acting without thinking what the end result will be)
- May be overly active and have difficulty calming down
- Daydream or forget things a lot
- Squirm, fidget, or talk too much
- Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risk
It should be noted that additional signs and symptoms may accompany ADHD, and that there are several types of ADHD as well. It is very important to get your child evaluated for ADHD and this can also be done by starting with your local school district, as noted above. You may also request an appointment with a neuropsychologist through a referral from your primary care doctor. Your doctor and the school evaluation team can work together to diagnose your child, because there is no single test to evaluate for ADHD. The evaluation through the local school district is free, and Love Your School can help you begin this process.
The Classroom Environment
Though often overlooked, the classroom environment itself may be causing a child’s struggles in school. Research and advancements in school choice in the last several decades have raised awareness and understanding for the unique ways that kids learn. As a result, new schools, learning communities, and diverse educational opportunities are continuing to grow and develop.
Some children thrive in structured learning environments with clear objectives and a work-load that promotes performance and personal growth. Other children may thrive in a more hands-on, project-based learning environment with flexibility on assignments and room for self pacing. There are as many unique educational styles as there are children in this world, and thankfully in Arizona, we have one of the most rich environments for educational options out of any other state.
Whether it’s classical, STEM, montessori, university-model, hybrid, Charlotte Mason, music and arts, farming, vocational tech, and the list goes on, Arizona schools have something for everyone. In addition, Arizona is home to the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program or “ESA” which allows qualifying families to take a portion of their child’s state per-pupil-funding and utilize those funds to create a fully customized education for their child. Funds can be used for private tutors, therapists, extracurricular programs, curriculum, and the list goes on! We can help you learn more about ESA and you can also read more on our website.
If your child is struggling in the classroom, Love Your School can help! Contact us today for a free consultation. We can direct you to local resources and help you request an educational evaluation for your child.
Additional Resources for reference:
Arizona’s own The Childhood Collective for ADHD support
The Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program (ESA)
Dyslexia Fact Sheet from Understood.org