475. Special Help

Sometimes a child has difficulty doing what’s supposed to be done in school. Ideally, the child, the child’s parent(s), and school personnel work together to figure out what the difficulty is and what can be done about it. Then the child is given timely and effective help, and what was difficult gets easier. This scenario is not uncommon; special instruction often does what it’s intended to do, and learning problems do get solved, or at least effective compensatory strategies get developed. That doesn’t always mean the problem is solved, but there is often real improvement.
This usually requires the participation of key adults. When there are key adults, whether parents, teachers, or administrators, who resist the process of getting needed help for a child, it gets more complicated. There are teachers who are skilled at providing specific kinds of help, and there is usually a procedure to be followed to decide which teacher is most appropriate. At the end of the process, there is often a decision to increase a teacher’s caseload, and sometimes, to spend more money. That’s one possible complication; some teachers feel and/or are overworked already. Some classroom teachers are reticent to admit that they can’t solve all problems on their own. And the school budget usually has some skilled guardians.
Parents can also provide obstacles. Special help can be just what’s needed, but there are parents who resist that help, believing that such help implies that the child in question is deficient. “My child is not stupid!” say these parents. “If the teacher would teach right, there would be no problem.” Or the child is blamed, and told to work harder. If a child has learning difficulties, it’s usually a great oversimplification, and sometimes just plain wrong, to say that the child just needs to work harder. Some parents blame themselves, believing that their genes or their parenting created problems.
Maybe some learning problems are created or aggravated by parents or teachers. Maybe a child’s attitude is the source of much of the trouble. But blaming is not very constructive; it doesn’t make things better. What’s effective is teamwork; all the people involved need to work together to help a child feel okay about having difficulty, and to figure out what can be done about the difficulty. That’s not as simple as blaming, but it works much better.
Once a team has worked together to decide what kind of help is needed, there are still issues to deal with. The inclusion issue, for example, is one I’ve explored in two other articles. But the first step in solving a problem is to
recognize that it is a problem. And the second step is for all the people facing the problem to work together to explore possible solutions.

Comments are closed.