Maintaining The Self-Esteem of A Child Struggling in School
Jarod is a bright little boy who can assemble amazing vehicles with lego, but from the time he was
very young, he always said something was up when he meant it was down, or that he was cold
when he meant he was hot. Handwriting is difficult for Jarod and so is spelling even simple words.
He will put 21 on his page and think he has put 12. Sherry sits next to a girl who can read a
book to the class, using fluency and expression. But Sherry is just beginning to understand that each
of the letters represents a sound, and that the sounds are put together to make a word. Nicholas
always speaks too loudly, and he confuses similar sounding words. He has difficulty memorizing
facts or doing an activity which uses the rules of phonics. He cant follow a series of directions,
especially if there is other activity in the room, when the instructions are given.
All of these children are struggling in school. A child may be having a difficult time, because he or she is not developmentally ready to learn a particular skill. Or a child may have a learning disability, either minor or severe, which is complicating the learning process. Children, with or without a disability, often learn best in different ways. There are tests which can be given to determine if a disability does exist. But regardless of whether or not a child is tested, the most important thing a parent can do involves maintaining your childs self-esteem. With resources to schools limited, a parents help is more important than ever.
If a childs difficulty was developmental, the difficulty may disappear, but damage to the childs
self-confidence could last forever. With learning disabilities (especially if they are minor, or caught early) a child can learn very effective coping strategies. These strategies may allow the child to reach their full potential, but only if the child maintains his or her self-esteem and confidence.It is equally important that a child not be allowed to use a difficulty as a crutch, to avoid work that is hard. There are ways to foster self-esteem, while helping your child to compensate for their weaknesses, and build on their strengths.
Watch for a list of successful suggestions in the next issue of Real Kids!
by Sue Fletcher, Woodstock