“My child is behind. What can I do to help? Any suggestions?”

Do you hear the pain in this question? And I see it often. I want to ask, “Who draws the line in the sand that labels being behind?” Everyone has weaknesses that qualify as being behind! Albert Einstein stated, “Everybody is a Genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” And elephants don’t do very well at tree climbing either. How much better when we evaluate each other by our strengths.

But I do have some ideas. First, examine your own feelings. At times every adult fights a self-condemning idea, “I did it wrong.” And that drags along shame, fear, discouragement and a sense of defeat.

These real emotions must be set aside when searching for ways to help a child. Instead, focus on the emotions whirling around in the student. Confusion, feeling misunderstood, sadness, and disappointment often accompany serious struggles. Students want to be successful. They want their adults to be proud of them. Continued struggles suggest to the child that they are a failure. We need to help each understand the difference between experiencing a failure and being a failure.

Second, become a scientist; follow the scientific method. Begin by writing the main question. Record your own thoughts and observations. Go ahead, write it down. Get it out of your head.

Now conduct research by collecting and recording information. Write what your child says about her challenges. Include answers to direct questions you ask as well as other comments you hear. Record positive comments. Make notes about the setting. (Watching TV . . . playing with a friend . . . talking to another adult . . .).

There are many benefits of these steps. Writing it down is an effective way to get some of the turmoil and emotions out of your head. This leads to increased awareness and better objectivity. It opens your mind for other observations. Being able to look at it helps you make connections you had not noticed. It brings opportunity for increased understanding and insight. It gives you more words to describe your child’s struggles and your concerns.

And now you will have more opportunities to see your child’s strengths.

Grandma is Rebecca Kordatzky. She is a wife, mother of three and grandmother. A retired educator, she’s taught all levels and trained teachers. As an educational coach/tutor, she aims to educate, encourage and inspire.

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