mommylovesj... asks:

My 8 year old has been struggling academically for years.  I'm at my wits end!  Should I keep him back?

I am at my witts end and have no idea what I am supposed to do. He is 8 and in the 3rd grade, but is failling miserably. When he attended preschool and was preparing to go to kindergarden, his teacher showed concern and asked me to consider holding him back. However, at the end of the year when it was time for him to enroll, the teacher said that he had caught up and was cleared to move forward. Within the first few months of him starting kindergarden, his teacher arranged a conference and expressed concern about his accademic level and that my son was in concideration to be retained. But, once again, by the end of that year, he was doing well enough to move forward. Pretty much the same thing has happened in 1st grade, 2nd grade and now 3rd. I am sooooo frusterated. I want to get him a tutor, however I am a single parent with a full time job and can not afford to do so. I have bought him work books to do at home and he seems to be catching up, but Im not sure if its really enough to keep up with the other kids. Id hate to have to go threw this year after year. I believe that if he succeds in school, he will suceed in life and watching him struggle like this is breaking my heart. I can't imagine what will happen if he continues to struggle year after year. How will effect his self esteem? Already, he is now "the class clown" and doesn't pay attention in class and is doing horrible on test. He wont turn in his homework and does his classwork extremly slow. I believe all this is due to his lack of confidence, yet I have no idea how to help him or what more I can do to change the situation. I need any and every piece of advise I can get.
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school
> 60 days ago



Oct 9, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

It is so clear from you post that you love and adore your son very much. With your support, I am confident that your son can be very successful in life.

First, I believe that your son needs to be tested. It sounds like he may have a unique learning style and/or difference that is getting in his way, prohibiting him from accessing the school curriculum. Of course, this is not unusual. The public school system is designed for the "typical" learner, and it seems that your son may need some accommodations or modifications to curriculum, changing the way in which information is being presented to him. However, you and his teachers need to discover what his learning needs are first.

I suggest that you get the ball rolling for securing a special education evaluation for your son. There are a number of ways to do this, but you may start by talking with your son's teacher. Express your wish to have him tested, and follow-up with her in order to make certain that the request has been translated to the special education coordinator. Another option is to submit a written request directly to the school principal. Here is a sample letter:

The school must respond with a plan for evaluation or an explanation for why they are choosing not to test. It is in times like this, that you will need to continue to educate yourself on your rights as a parent and dedicate yourself to assuring that school personnel follow through on their responsibilities.

For more on navigating special education, please see the following article:

If, and when, your son is found eligible for special education, school personnel will help devise a plan of accommodations (which may include tutoring provided by the school) to support your son.

Hope that helps. Good luck and keep us posted!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist Reference Team

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