Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Do I Know . . .?

Parents have often asked me questions that begin with, “How do I know . . .?” They finish the question with various phrases such as, ” . . . if I should be worried about these problems in preschool/kindergarten?” ” . . . if the teacher is being fair to my child?” ” . . . if they’ll just outgrow this?” Regardless of what they ask, it all boils down to the same question. “How do I know if I should take action?”

Usually, the answer lies within the question itself. If you are feeling unsettled enough to seek an outside opinion, often you already know you need to pay attention. As parents, we often know deep inside that perhaps our child is not thriving in the way we had hoped. Because there are many variables in classroom settings, we often look at other possibilities as the root cause of the problem. Perhaps the teacher doesn’t like our child and she is nit-picking about behaviors. Perhaps the expectations are unreasonable for attention span and the appropriate behaviors. Perhaps there are too many children in the class, or too few. Perhaps this school isn’t a good fit for our child’s learning style. Perhaps our child is surrounded by children who are exceptionally gifted, so our child doesn’t seem to shine. Perhaps the other children’s parents are over-achievers who push their child.

Too many of the parents I counsel say, “I knew back in preschool something wasn’t going quite right. Looking back, I should have been more pro-active at that point. Now I’ve got a bigger problem on my hands.” “I didn’t believe there was a problem until I was forced to visit my child’s classroom. I can’t believe I didn’t see this sooner.” “Truly our child has the same issues at home, we have just been denying it.”

If you are concerned, that’s how you know. Certainly there are occasionally circumstances that are unfair, or disagreeable teachers, or poor schools—-but those are generally the exception. If your child is not keeping up with his peers, you know. If your child is struggling in social situations, you know. If your child is not as physically coordinated as the rest of the class, you know. If you child is struggling academically, you know.

The REAL question is, “I know something is going awry, what do I do about it now?” That is a question that can really begin to get you on the pathway to improvement. That is the question I can help you answer. Those other questions—you already know.