It is really hard to believe that my kids are headed back to school on Monday – just three days from now. This summer FLEW by eternally faster than any other summer that I can remember. This back-to-school year feels different, it is so bittersweet that thinking about it brings me to tears. It is the last back-to-school that we will have with our kids because they are starting their Senior year in high school. And as I sit and think about what we must do to prepare them for a fresh start this school year, I am also left thinking about the years that have gone by and the many challenges they have faced and overcome throughout those years.
Our son has always been one of those kids who is enthusiastic about returning to school. Excited to see his friends, excited to learn about the classes he is going to be in, and excited to see what the year brings. He has also been one of those blessed children who is just book smart – the ones who really don’t even have to try. So, you would never imagine that he might be categorized as having a learning or attention issue – mainly because there are many issues people face that go undiagnosed and even unnoticed by parents and teachers. He manages, don’t get me wrong. But he has to really stay on top of things to keep himself organized and focused – it takes real work for him.
Our Daughter is an entirely different story. While she never openly complained about returning to school, her enthusiasm wasn’t nearly the level of her brothers. She had a close-knit circle of friends and she has to work very hard to earn the good grades she continually maintains. Many years ago, though not diagnosed with a learning issue, she did struggle on many levels. It hurt her pride, her spirit, and made school a sad place for her to be. It took hard work, planning, organizing and help from teachers and great resources to figure out how to get here where she needed to be, to boost her spirit again, to show her that she could succeed – just like every other child in class.
Every child has a different story – some may love school, some may dread the thought of going back, and for some, it may scare them enough to cause real issues for them. Starting school can be an exciting, confusing and even scary time for kids with learning and attention issues, and for their parents. New teachers and classmates, new schedules and demands—these changes can be a lot to prepare for and absorb.
Did you know that one in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues? Many of them have never been formally diagnosed. The Ad Council and Understood.org have partnered to promote ways children and their families can be First-Day Ready. Understood.org is offering a free First-Day Ready Guide to help parents with students at every age successfully manage back-to-school transitions. Understood.org is a free, easy-to-use online resource and community designed to support parents and caregivers of children with learning and attention issues.
As the new school year approaches, we were excited to get personalized tips from the First-Day Ready Guide to help our kids make a great start.
Back to School Tips:
If your child struggles with schoolwork, or has been identified as having a learning and attention issue, here’s a preview of some of the kinds of tips you can get from the First- Day Ready Guide…
- A few weeks in advance, make checklists and calendars, and start settling into the school year routine with earlier bedtimes and wakeups. This Back-to-School Countdown Planner, Backpack Checklist, and sample Homework Contract can help you prepare
- If your child is starting a new school, schedule a walk-through to learn the lay of the land and help your child feel more comfortable finding their way around
Connect with teachers ASAP
- If possible, reach out before school begins to discuss your child’s needs or learning style. You can fill in this card in advance to help guide that conversation
- If you can’t meet with the teacher in person, send your child to school with an introduction letter that can help your student speak up about his challenges. You can find a sample introduction letter here
- Many parents and students are going through the same experience. Ask around at your school to make connections and build your support network
- You can also find community online. Understood.org and Understood’s Facebook page connect parents across the country to share information and learn from each other.
So, no matter your child’s age or needs, make this Back-to-School season a seamless transition and positive experience! If you could use some help getting started on the right foot this school year, Understood.org is a great place to start.
All kids learn in different ways and at different paces. With the right support, all kids can thrive in school and in life.
More About Learning & Attention Issues:
Learning and attention issues are real, brain-based issues and are not the result of where or how a child grows up. Having a learning or attention issue doesn’t mean a child isn’t smart. All kids learn in different ways and at different paces. It’s important to support each student’s individual needs, skills and strengths.
When a child struggles in school, it can be difficult for parents to recognize and understand these behaviors as symptoms of learning and attention issues. Parents often mistakenly believe that their child just needs to try harder or is just going through a phase.
Some signs of learning and attention issues—like refusing to read aloud, having a consistently messy backpack or not wanting to go to school—can seem so commonplace that they’re easy to overlook. If you’re concerned about your child, talking to their teacher or doctor is a great first step.
More About Understood.org:
• Created by 15 nonprofit partners, Understood.org is a free resource that empowers parents of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues through daily access to experts, personalized resources, interactive tools and a supportive community of parents.
• Understood.org provides free daily access to experts through chats and webinars, personalized tools, interactive resources, and a safe online community that encourages parents to reach out to and learn from each other.
• Understood.org is available in English, Spanish and Read-Aloud mode and is operated by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).