Struggling at School

If you think your child is struggling with learning and/or attention issues, what should you do?

Look for Signs at Home

Here are some signs you may notice at home:
-Struggles to complete homework assignments independently
-Avoids school work at home and/or at school
-Is easily upset when school or certain subjects are discussed
-Uses negative self-talk, (i.e. “I’m stupid”, “Everyone is smarter than me”)
-Worries about going to school
-Is often sad on school nights
-Has regular stomachaches and/or headaches

LD & ADHD Potential Indicators Chart

LD & ADHD Potential Indicators Chart
The LD & ADHD Potential Indicators Chart provides information about Potential Indicators, or Red Flags, at different grade levels, for both LD & ADHD. You and your child’s teacher may be noticing these red flags in different settings and tasks. These difficulties may be reflected in the classroom, work and homework assignments, assessments, and report card marks and comments.

Rule Out Health Issues

Talk to your pediatrician or family physician to rule out underlying health issues. Explain your observations and the teacher’s observations and ask them to rule out any medical conditions such as vision, hearing, etc. that could be affecting your child’s learning.

Talk to Your Child’s Teachers

Build a connection with your child’s teacher from the start of every school year. When you have a concern, phone or email the teacher and ask for a meeting.

What could you ask at the meeting?
Some questions for the meeting with the child’s teacher:
-My child appears to be struggling with _______.  Is this age/grade appropriate?
-How can you support them to get better at this?
-How can I support them to get better at this?
-How and when will we know that our support is working?
-What resources do you have in class to support my child?
-What resources do you have in the school to support my child?
-What can I do at home to support my child?
-Who else can we involve in this conversation if needed?
-How often should we communicate?  Do you prefer email or phone calls?

Following the Meeting:
Send a ‘thank you’ note email after the meeting listing the concerns you discussed and outlining your understanding of the steps you and the teacher have agreed on. Teachers and administrative staff can change over the course of a school year, so this will provide a record of all your communication.

Here is a word doc version; Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher, that you can adapt, print, and bring with you when you meet with school staff.

Implement a Plan and Check for Progress

Once you have shared your observations and issues that may be impacting your child’s learning, then together with the school identify the current challenges and make a plan to address them. Schedule specific review dates to check on progress every few weeks.

If a child struggles in an academic area, expect him or her to need support on an ongoing basis to catch up and maintain progress.

If progress does not occur as expected after a reasonable period of time, the next step is to meet with the school team to investigate the reasons why the child continues to struggle. This is the time to decide on the next steps to support your child.

School Supports & Diagnosis Flow Chart

School Supports and Diagnosis.Flow Chart gives you a visual of the process to get supports for your child in school.

Services in the Community

You may want to supplement classroom support with  services in the community. Go to Find Help Children to get suggestions for how to find appropriate support services for your child or teen.

If you have a young adult you are concerned about, you may also want to go to Find Help Adults for suggestions.

Time for a Psycho-educational Assessment?

If your child continues to have significant learning and/or attention issues after he has received targeted support and intervention, then a psycho-educational assessment may be an important next step in understanding your child’s learning profile.

Ask your school how they can support you if your child needs a psycho-educational assessment by a registered psychologist. If your school is unable to provide a timely psycho-educational assessment, you may want to pursue this independently.

The Psychological Association of Alberta (PAA) lists psychologists. Be sure to find a psychologist with expertise in doing a psycho-educational assessment. For more in-depth information about assessments and how to find a psychologist, go to About LDs & ADHD

Once the assessment is complete, be sure to meet with the assessment psychologist so that they can help you understand the results of the assessment. These assessments are in depth and contain a great deal of information. The information in a psycho-educational assessment usually provides strategies that can be followed at the school.

Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to go over the results of the assessment. This might be a good time to ask for the school administration to sit in on the meeting, as they often have access to further support.