A few months ago, I attended the baby shower for the daughter of my former employer; turned really good friend.
Some invitees were parents whose kids she had educated years ago. I happened to sit at the same table with a parent of one of my former students. After I told her who I was (I have changed a bit in the last 19 years), we started talking about her son who is now in college.
As we talked about her son’s educational journey, she mentioned that she regretted taking so long to accept her son’s academic and cognitive weaknesses, and getting him help. She confessed, “I was in denial for so long. I didn’t want to believe what you told me at that time about my son’s weaknesses.”
Here’s the backstory.
When her son was in elementary school, his teacher noticed that he was not performing at grade level. She had done her best to help him, but she still didn’t see much progress, so she recommended extra academic help after school, and advised the student’s mom to contact me to find out if I could help.
She did contact me, and we scheduled a diagnostic evaluation for her son. With the test results, the reason why her son was struggling to keep up with the class was clear. After our consultation to discuss the results, I never heard back from her until about 14 years later.
So here’s why I’m sharing this story.
This parent is not the first parent who has told me that they were in denial about their child’s academic, or cognitive challenges. They often attribute their state of denial to several factors.
Here are a few of the reasons I have heard from parents over the years:
- We (both parents) come from a family of high achievers, and we never struggled in school, or needed extra support outside of school. So, this is just a fluke.
- My child is very smart, but he’s just not a good test taker.
- It’s the curriculum they are using in the school.
- My child is just lazy and doesn’t want to apply himself.
- If my child is struggling, it must be the school system’s fault for not hiring competent educators.
- The teacher dislikes my child and does not give my child the one-on-one attention he needs in the classroom.
- My child is still young, and will eventually catch up in the next grade.
- My child doesn’t care about, or doesn’t like school, and that’s why he is failing.
Here are some ways to move beyond the state of denial into a place of being PROACTIVE.
- You have to match your child’s current ability, and your expectations of him/her with the realities of what his schoolwork, or grades are reflecting.
- If your child is in third grade and up, talk with him, and find out what challenges he/she has with his/her current school work.
- Talk with other parents whose kids are the same age, or grade level, and don’t have any learning or cognitive challenges, and compare to what your child can do independently.
- Monitor your child’s homework time. Is he struggling to complete his homework independently? Do you always have to tell him the answers, or show him his mistakes?
You have the power to reverse your child’s learning struggles, and set him up for future success. What you do today can continuously make a big difference in your child’s learning ability.