In about three weeks from now my new book, “School Struggles” is scheduled for release. Over the next few essays, I will try and highlight some of the main points of the book. One overriding theme of the book is looking to the smooth road vs. the rough road, an image that I continually return to with parents.
Probably about 50% of the population travels down a relatively smooth road. For example, in preschool they share nicely and seem to be well liked by the teachers and other kids. Reading development unfolds on time. Homework is managed. As school progresses the smooth road children take increasing responsibility with little adult involvement.
Then there’s everyone else.
For these children there are more potholes in the road. These potholes can be there for a whole host of reasons. There are social, reading, mathematics, behavioral, and attention potholes among the more common faced by children. Some of the potholes can be very large, others barely visible. The really big ones often lead to a child being classified in special education, but so often the potholes are viewed as just part of the road – kind of “average” potholes to just be ignored.
If your child is one on the rougher side of the road it can feel very overwhelming as a parent.
What can you do?
One thing that can be helpful is to have a trusted a professional who you are comfortable with who you can talk to who knows the landscape and can help you prioritize.
Should you focus on the reading pothole? If so, what’s the target? Decoding? Comprehension?
Perhaps reading isn’t the issue and you want to try and help the child get along better with others, to not be as pushy or demanding or to learn how to share better.
One takeaway point is to think of the “potholes” as skills not neurological deficiencies. Most of these potholes are skill deficits that can be practiced with sensible approaches. The first step is identifying which one you want to target.
You may not completely make the road a smooth one, but you certainly can fill in a couple of the holes.