Last week we started our two-part series to try and help you have a smoother ride this school year and to try and reduce the New School Year Blues.

In the first three tips, we encouraged you to turn down the heat during homework; to find ways as a parent to back it down when you’re feeling the heat rising, and to also help your kid gain a little composure if he goes off the rails over homework.

Here are a few more pointers:

Don’t Wait Around:  In the early grades especially, but even for middle school, it’s all about the foundational skills.  If your child is on the struggling side of the road, chances are there are “Swiss cheese holes” in the foundational skills of  reading, writing and mathematics.     You know your child better than anyone. If you think he child needs help, then seek it out.  99% of the time parents (ok, the moms) are on the money their concerns.   Don’t wait around for the school to tell you that your child is showing weakness.  (They aren’t allowed to recommend tutoring, anyway.)

Know What You Are Targeting:  If you are seeking any kind of tutoring make sure you know  very specifically what the goals are and what the emphasis will be.  A good tutor will be establishing goals based on the diagnostic information she has available and you should be able to get a very clear, specific targeted goals.  For example, a good goal for a beginning reader (or struggling reader) who is in early Stage I of development might be for the child to “master short vowel sounds in consonant-vowel-consonant words within a six month period.”

Set the Tone:    Ask yourself how you want it to go at home relative to homework.  You set the tone. Lead and they will follow.  Reflect on being the captain of the ship and decide how you want it to go.  For example, if you value the need for electronic-free time zones (that is no phones and iPads) in your house, then set this as a parameter.  You may get a lot of push-back initially, but that’s ok. If you stay firm with how you want things to go, they will settle in.

504 Plans – What they Can & Can’t Do:   Many kids have 504 Plans.  504 Plans are usually generated for kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD.  (There are other reasons a 504 is developed, but for now let’s leave it at that.)  My impression is that people think a 504 will do much more than it really does.  The 504 Plan is meant to level the playing field a bit for kids identified as having a disability such as ADHD.  A few reasonable accommodations, such as not penalizing a child for spelling or having directions repeated are examples of ones that may be helpful.   For a smoother year, don’t overinvest in the power of 504.  It will only let you down!

Ok.  I could go on with so many other reminders for a smoother school year, but the 7 tips from last week through today should get you started on the right foot.

Copyright:  Shut-Down Learner

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email