Jackson had always been a bright child. He said his first words at nine months and was speaking in full sentences by eighteen months. His communication was prolific, and he developed normally, even slightly ahead of the curve. Now, when Tricia receives his report cards, she’s distressed at the Cs and Ds he is making, when she knows he is capable of so much more. What has gone wrong?
It can be puzzling, and even worrisome when intelligent children perform significantly lower than their potential. Often, the impetus for such performance is tracked back to a simple explanation.
Has your child missed a significant amount of academic instruction?
Missed instruction can come as a result of a move (or several), extended sickness, or other extenuating circumstances. Gaps in education create potential cracks for your child to fall through.
Have curriculum choices and/or methods of instruction changed frequently?
Again this may come as a result of a move, or may be as simple as a change of teachers, switching classrooms, or a teacher changing methodology. Sometimes the method even dramatically changes while moving from one grade to the next.
Has your child had frequent illnesses or chronic problems such as severe allergies?
We don’t learn well when we don’t feel well! It can be easy for a child with frequent or chronic illness to miss important instruction simply because they cannot focus well past the persistence of their ailment.
Has your child experienced a life crisis, like the death or serious illness of a family member or important person in her life?
The trauma of a death or serious illness can have lasting repercussions and impact a child’s success in school, whether that is expressed in attention, motivation, or any number of other ways.
Is there poor or inadequate instruction?
Does your child’s teacher not know how to teach to different learning styles, or has he stopped caring? Perhaps she doesn’t use engaging topics, or school standards are lower than your child requires.
Once you have identified the event that triggered the decreased performance, your student’s specific learning discrepancy still needs to be identified! As a rule, children do not just outgrow their problems without some form of intervention.
Accurately identifying the nature of the learning discrepancy requires an assessment of your child’s cognitive abilities as well as their level of academic achievement. A skilled educational/school psychologist is able to pinpoint your student’s area(s) of weakness and strength. Armed with that information, she works with parents and teachers to formulate an action plan to reverse and remediate the learning problem.
Don’t waste precious time with delays and wait-and-see attitudes. Early intervention is key to optimal results.