How to Tell Your Child He is Having Educational Testing: 3 Things to Keep in Mind

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.

Conversations With Your Child

Why the Car Can be a Great Place for Conversations With Your Child: 3 Things to Consider

You’re driving down the road and your child asks you where babies come from. Well, you can either drive up on the sidewalk, or you can clench the steering wheel a little tighter and go with the conversation.

While this might not quite be the setting you envisioned for this conversation, it could actually turn out to be for the best. At least it can be a great starting point! A car can end up being the ideal setting for many “sensitive” conversations. Whether it is a younger child or a teenager, you can use it to your advantage.

Why? Here are a few things to consider.

1) You can avoid that awkward eye contact. Depending on the topic, it can really make a difference. Sometimes a child (or adult) will feel more at ease to ask questions, make comments, or go deeper into a conversation when you aren’t facing each other. Lying in bed while looking at the ceiling can be a similar strategy.

2) You are not as likely to be interrupted. The doorbell won’t ring. She won’t be pulling away trying to watch television. He won’t be asking if he can play a video game. They can’t exit to another room. There is nowhere to run! (However, you might need to silence a cell phone.)

3) The setting is more casual. And there are built-in distractions if needed. Especially with some of the teenager conversations, you are less likely to give the impression that you are “too interested,” “too concerned,” or “too intrusive.” (For those of you with teenagers, you know precisely to what I’m referring.) If you occasionally make a comment about a car, a street, or make some other observation, it will make it less intense. A random comment can also fill in that dreaded lull, should one occur.

Over the years, I’ve gotten more information out of my children during car rides than in any other place. We’ve also had some of the deepest, most heart-felt conversations we’ve ever had.

Your peripheral vision can allow you to see how much your oldest child is squirming when your youngest child is asking twenty puberty questions. (This is actually a hilarious memory for us!)

My mini-van was the backdrop for topics from school struggles, strategies for asking someone to a dance, to hearing about a first kiss. Admittedly, there have been some close calls, but I’ve never run up on the sidewalk.

Put away the phones and other electronics for some of your car rides and wait for the conversations to unfold!