“James must try and do his personal best all the time.”

This was the teacher’s evaluation comment of a child I recently evaluated.

As soon as I read the comment, I felt my blood pressure rise a bit.  I don’t know about you, but I have yet to have a day in my life where I have done my “personal best all the time.”

I think I would settle for a few good hours of my personal best!

Once I started working with James it was  was clear he was not someone who was going to be able to sustain his personal best for more than a brief activity or two.  His issues were the ones often seen with kids who struggle in school.   Low-level writing skills and a weak capacity to sustain his interest for tasks that he saw as too difficult were very clearly a part of his style.

For James, his weaknesses were continually undermining him and his motivation.  He lacked skills that were needed to put forth the sustained effort that the teacher was seeking.  I have been seeing a lot of James-style kids lately.  These kids can’t work through their frustration, have great difficulty putting together a basic paragraph with any coherency, and are pretty disorganized.

I see these kids as having clogged fuel lines for many of the typical classroom activities.

What will unclog them?  It’s hard to say.

I do know that a patient, supportive teacher can work wonders in helping a child become a bit unclogged.  Once the child feels supported, there is often more emotional energy for trying to tackle more difficult tasks.
So, as we start this school year maybe we should watch those statements about, “doing your best all the time. “ Then you might start seeing more bursts of “personal best” throughout the day.

Tags:  Parenting, Struggling children, Learning Disabilities