Your child is struggling in school. He’s not making progress like his peers. He doesn’t remember skills from one day to the next. He requires re-teaching in every subject. The teacher tells you he’s bright, but there’s a disconnect somewhere. Psychoeducational testing (educational testing) is a great place to start. This type of evaluation will answer questions for you, the school, and even your child.
So, now what? How in the world do you tell your child that he is having this testing? Due to the academic struggles, his self-confidence is probably already in shambles. Won’t this make it even worse?
Well, that all depends on how you approach the conversation.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Keep your tone upbeat and casual. Remember, this is a good thing! Your job is to help him realize it. This is not a conversation where you ask him to sit in front of you, knee-to-knee. This is not a conversation where you need to speak in hushed tones of despair. On the contrary. You need to be excited! Have a twinkle in your eye. As a parent, you are completely pumped to find out about this opportunity. If you sound serious, he will worry. This is a great chance for him to find out some cool things about himself and find out ways to make learning easier all at the same time.
2) Who is this person? These “Learning Coaches” (psychologists) take a long time to get into see because so many people use them. This person is a doctor because he has spent so many years studying about the best ways for children and adults to learn. Dr. XXXXXX will be able to tell us what’s hard for you, what’s easy for you, and the best ways you learn and remember things. He can make suggestions to help make learning easier for you. This is such an exciting thing to be able to do! Get the idea?
3) What kinds of people go to this doctor? All kinds of people go to this type of doctor! Children, adults- like teachers, college students, doctors, famous people, etc.
For an older or more mature student, you still need to keep it causal and upbeat. You are EXCITED to have this opportunity. Be honest and tell him that you’ve noticed that he sometimes has trouble with some parts of his work and you are wondering why. He is smart. He is a hard worker. Something is getting in the way to make the skills harder to learn. The learning coach can identify strengths and how to teach to those strengths, therefore making learning a little easier.
At the end of the day, you know your child best. Your instinct is going to tell you the best approach and how to adapt and modify your conversation as you go.
If your child protests, then most likely you need to lean toward the second approach. Remember, you are the parent and you are making decisions to help him be as successful as he can be. Again, keep this positive, but, if needed, stern and non-negotiable.
Whether a learning disability is identified, ADHD, expressive-receptive language weaknesses, auditory processing weaknesses, something else, or nothing, you will have great information about the big picture of your child. This information can confirm or rule out reasons for the academic struggles and give you a plan for going forward.