Well, maybe this year was a wash.
The school year is winding down, and you’re breathing a sigh of relief. Not just because you’ve got another few months before you have to help your child struggle through Common Core math homework again, but because this was one of those years.
You know the type of year I’m talking about. The year when your child just couldn’t seem to keep up with the work. Or when he could keep up academically, but where you were constantly fielding phone calls from teachers about his inability to, well, behave himself. Or where her academics and behavior were on track, but he was bullied and excluded by the other kids in her class.
It’s tempting, when one of those years blindsides you, to feel such an overwhelming sense of relief when it’s over that you forget that there’s another year ahead. Sure, it’s great to feel hopeful that a new teacher, or a change of classes, or just the chance to start anew – that any of these will make next year NOT one of those years. But let’s face it. The most basic rule of Mommy Statistics 101 is that a child who struggles one year will be much more likely than a typical kid to struggle with the exact same issue the next year.
So where does that leave you? During the struggle itself, when you’re speaking with the principal daily or floundering with your child through homework every night, it’s hard to take the time to take a step back and try to prevent any future issues. But there’s good news! Summer is around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to regroup and work with your child to try to make next year a winning one. Here’s how.
Consider looking for a diagnosis. Sometimes a tough year is just a tough year. Other times, it can be a warning bell that there’s something else going on. Could he be having a hard time in school because of a learning disability? Could he be acting up because of ADHD, anxiety, or another condition? Could his lack of social skills be a red flag for mild autism or Asperger’s? Now is the time to ask your child’s pediatrician whether your child’s issues are typical or whether they may be a sign of something more. Remember: A diagnosis may be the first step towards getting your child the help she needs to succeed.
Get professional help. Even if your child’s struggles have nothing to do with a diagnosable disorder, consider looking into professional help. That might mean finding an occupational therapist to help with handwriting, a reading specialist to boost your child’s language skills, or a psychologist to help your child cope with bullying or other social issues. Working with these professionals over the summer can give your child the support she needs to reach for the stars next year.
Speak with the school. It could be that you’re sure that most of this year’s struggles could have been avoided if the school had taken the proper measures beforehand. If so, now’s the perfect time to set up a meeting with the principal and anyone else on the administrative team who you think would be helpful. Prepare beforehand, and try to pull the focus away from your frustration over what was done wrong this year; instead, hone in on what can be done to prevent the same issues in the future.
Spend summer opportunities wisely. Summer is the perfect time to build up your child’s self esteem by playing to her strengths. That might mean sending her to an acting camp, organizing a neighborhood sports team for her to join, or taking her hiking and camping on weekends. You also want to provide opportunities for her to strengthen her areas of weakness, perhaps by giving her incentives for each book she completes or by organizing playdates for her to work on her social skills.
So it’s true: This year’s a wash. But with summertime coming down the road, you can take the opportunity to sit down and plan to make the next school year a huge success!