Get Ready For School

By Alan Brandis, Ph.D

Everyone knows that the start of school is around the corner, and the excitement of a new beginning awaits. The feel of new, crisply pressed clothes and the aroma of freshly sharpened pencils lets us know that a chance to start things anew is almost here.

For some kids, though, the resumption of school is full of anticipation of a different kind. For those kids, the beginning of school means struggling, frustration, battles as parents try to make them do homework, and a growing feeling that their friends and peers are leaving them behind.

If your child struggled with school last year, maybe this is the year to take a closer look at why he or she is struggling. Often, when children resist homework, it is due to more than just being "lazy." In our experience, the children we evaluate are often struggling because:

  • They have difficulty with attention and focusing (kids who don't have behavior problems often do not get identified as ADD)
  • They have difficulty with reading, reading comprehension, and writing
  • They have a specific memory impairment
  • Anxiety or depression reduce their motivation or concentration
  • Visual or auditory processing deficits prevent the child from fully understanding what they hear or read
  • They are over-focused on something else, such as video games or friends, to the extent that they cannot get their minds onto schoolwork
  • They really do not know how to study correctly, to maximize their use of time and effort
  • They may already be on medication for attention, but it does not seem to be helping much

All of these problems can and do interfere with academic functioning, but your child may not be able to identify or explain why he or she avoids schoolwork and does not seem to retain information. For example, we have seen many children who, when asked if they are a good, average or a little slow reader, tell us their reading is fine, great, no problem; but, when we have them read to us, it is clear that they have difficulty.

The public school system has changed their procedures in the last few years, to better utilize their scarce resources, but many parents feel it has become more difficult to obtain help for their child quickly. We can often help by performing intelligence and other testing quickly, helping parents provide useful information to the school, and helping to develop a plan to address the specific issues that are holding the child back from reaching his or her true potential.

Most insurance plans will help pay for some or all of the testing needed. Of course, every child is unique and every situation is different, so it is best to call us and get specific information.

Your child may be struggling unnecessarily, and developing a negative attitude towards school as well as towards himself. We encourage you to use our resources and years of experience to help determine what he or she needs to make this year a more successful and satisfying year for everyone.