As a mom of 4 kids between the ages of 2 and 13; I have faced the hugest variety of situations, challenges, decisions and celebrations in my children’s school journeys so far. This month Schooled with Laura looks at what to do when a teacher suggests your child needs therapy; an issue you could face any time from play school to high school.
Every parent wants to believe their child is the brightest, smartest child in the world. You tell them repeatedly how smart they are and that they can do anything they try to do. When they are babies, you track their milestones and encourage them to walk and talk and you celebrate each and every achievement. You send them off to school full of excitement for all that they are going to learn. You get excited when they come home with new words and new skills, until the day you get a note in their bag saying you need to speak to the teacher about your child’s development. You are filled with even more dread and despair when the teacher throws around words like “occupational therapy” and “assessments”.
It can be daunting and terrifying, but it doesn’t need to be. A good teacher will always have your child’s best interests in mind and will not make these suggestions without much consideration and thought.
How do you deal with this news though?
Listen. It is a natural reaction to get defensive when it is suggested your child is not developing like they should be. It is also natural to lash out at the teacher, but this will not help you or your child. If the first meeting with the teacher didn’t go well, set up another one when you feel calmer and just listen. Hear what the reasons are for her suggesting the additional assessments or therapy. Try not to explain why your child is doing the things that are raising alarm bells, just listen. Remember though, a teacher has to give you valid reasons and concerns before referring you to a therapist.
Ask questions. If you do not understand terminology or what the teacher is saying, ask her to explain it more. Ask her as many questions as you need to until you feel comfortable. Find out as much as you can about the information she is sharing with you. If she suggests dyslexia, ask her to explain to you what exactly it is, the treatments available, etc.
Be honest. Often you get so used to your child’s quirks and mannerisms that they become normal, but if we are truly honest with ourselves, as parents, we know when something is not right. Be honest with the teacher, tell her as much as you can about your child’s behaviour at home and your home environment. Every little piece of information can help.
Work with the teacher. Working against the teacher will create more pressure, stress and discomfort for both you and your child.
It is not your fault. Do not take this as a reflection of how you have raised your child. You could have four children who you raised exactly the same, but one could be diagnosed with ADHD or have low muscle tone. Do not beat yourself up about it, it will not help you or your child.
When a teacher suggests your child needs therapy or a little extra help, don’t get defensive. They are not attacking you or your child, but rather trying to help make life easier for your child. More often than not, if issues are picked up early they are more easily fixed, making your child’s school life so much easier in the long term.
Have you ever been faced with this situation? How did you deal with it?
If you have any questions or concerns about your little one’s at school or there is something you would like Laura to share or write about, send us a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Schooled with Laura.
*You can learn more about Laura here.