If your child is struggling, don't panic at the first bad report card or note from the teacher. Do some homework. Find out why he's falling behind — and what you can do to make a difference.
While there are some normal developmental tasks a child should master at each age, the operative word is "normal" — and it has a very wide range. After reviewing the lists below, if you're concerned, check with your child's teacher, the school psychologist, or a reading specialist. Most likely, you'll get all the reassurance that you need. If not, you'll know how to proceed.
Though a child who struggles with reading may have been able to get by up until now, he'll face a high hurdle in these grades. As homework increases, and the curriculum focuses on reading and writing for comprehension, good decoding and writing skills are critical. So, too, are study and organizational skills.
Consider help if:
- your child consistently avoids reading activities or complains that reading is too difficult;
- you have an older child who was diagnosed with a learning problem (these difficulties tend to run in families; the earlier problems are diagnosed, the quicker you can find the help your child deserves);
- your child does well in small groups but feels lost in larger ones;
- your instincts tell you that she's having a harder time than her classmates;
- your child is chronically disorganized, forgets homework sheets, misses quiz or test dates;
- your child can't manage homework time well;
- your child fails to take responsibility for doing her homework;
- your child does well in some subjects but poorly in others;
- your child never reads for pleasure.