Let’s say I want to improve my tennis game, so I go to a pro to have him size up my skills.   Watching me serve, hit a few forehands, some back hands and a few at the net, he comes up with his recommendations.

“First I want you to go the gym and go on the treadmill.  While you’re there see if someone can help you with balance beam exercises.  Then you should go to a yoga teacher and learn how to center yourself.  All that should improve your tennis.”


I sometimes feel that way when I hear the myriad of stories from the front when it comes to children and their struggling.

Things like the following are commonly relayed:


  • “The school is focusing on my child’s comprehension, even though he’s been shown to have significant issues with word identification and decoding.”
  • “They are emphasizing three paragraph essays, but she has no idea how to write a sentence or even what is a sentence.”
  • “Every day he gets 10 math word problems to improve his math.  Only problem is he really can’t read them and has no idea how to do basic addition and subtraction.”
  • “We put him on medication and maybe that will help him get organized.” (ADHD medication helps with focusing.  That’s it.)
  • “We know she has poor social skills.  A counselor is recommending a video game to improve these.”

Recommendations should emerge from a sensible assessment of a child’s strengths and weaknesses.   A recommendation should closely match the identified deficiency and it needs to pass the common-sense, “smell test.”

If the recommendation makes no sense to you, then you need to question  and, ultimately, challenge it. If you are shaking your head in bewilderment, then there is probably something off.

“Wait, why are we focusing on comprehension, when his deficits are in word decoding?”

“How can she do math word problems, when she can’t read or understand them?”

“If my child doesn’t know how to write a sentence, isn’t it too much to expect a three paragraph essay on his school trip.”

More important than the “diagnosis,” an assessment should help you to prioritize  and guide you in good “next-step” thinking.

With sensible recommendations guiding “next-step”  thinking, you won’t be having your child walking on a balance-beam to help him with his forehand.


Copyright, 2020 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com

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(***  Please note: Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, clinician and author of four books.  His blog posts represent his opinions and perspectives based on his years of interacting with struggling children, parents and schools.  He reminds readers that he is neither a scientist, nor a researcher.  The  advice in the blogs and in practice is governed by one overriding principle – “If this were my child, what would I do?”   The goal of the blogs and the website is to provide you with straight-forward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice and perspective to help cut through all of the confusion that exists in the field.)