14 March, 2024

Teachers and parents have one thing in common

Teachers and parents have one thing in common - Teachers and parents have one thing in common
Children have the best chance for success if the teachers and parents support them together as a team.

It can be distressing to hear or suspect that your child is struggling academically, but when parents and the school are able to work together as a team, this gets to the root of the problem and can have a powerful impact on their well-being and long-term achievement.

We all want our children to do well

Teachers and parents have one thing in common – we all want our children to succeed. Children begin school expecting to learn and be successful, and as parents, this is what we want for our children. If a teacher or parent observes that a child is having difficulty in school, this might indicate that they learn differently and may have a learning difficulty. It is always easier to adapt family life to meet the needs of a child than to adapt a class full of many learners, so in a school where a child is part of a bigger group, it can be much easier to spot difficulties that a learner is experiencing. Teachers see the children in our care as they interact with their peers or as part of a wider group, and because of this, we are often quicker to spot potential learning difficulties.

At The British International School Bratislava, the belief that every child is an individual is at the heart of our school life, and we are fully aware that every child is unique. However, there are certain things that all children should be able to do if they are to succeed academically, and when they struggle, this means that they might be unable to succeed as they should.

It can be very difficult for a teacher to have to tell a parent that their child is struggling in school, especially if the parents haven’t noticed any issues. In the Learning Support Department at the BISB, we know that parents want their children to do well in school and life, and learning that they may have a learning difficulty can be very difficult news. However, we also believe that early intervention and support are vital if our learners are to make maximum progress and to ensure that a child overcomes their difficulties as much as possible. Supporting the school and taking on board the reasoning of the teachers, if they think that your child has a learning issue, is of huge importance to your child.

You can’t just ignore a problem in the hope that it will disappear

Choosing to ignore the possibility of learning difficulty is not helpful as they don’t fade away and will likely just become more problematic. Additional difficulties can develop, and a child will start to show signs of sadness, frustration, or disappointment.

Behavioural problems and acting out might occur, or the learner can become more frustrated and lose confidence in everything they do because they repeatedly find tasks more difficult than those around them for no apparent reason or they don’t make the progress that they feel that they should be making because they are not getting the help that they need. When this happens, it is common for them to stop trying because they work hard with no result. An undiagnosed or ignored learning difficulty can greatly impact self-esteem and confidence levels throughout a person’s life.

The power of a diagnosis

However, an assessment and a diagnosis can change all of this. It may seem like a label, but labels can bring with them an understanding of the reason for the difficulties and even more importantly, adaptations for the classroom that will support a child and enable them to learn to their highest potential. With the right support and interventions, children and adults with learning difficulties can succeed in school and life. Recognition, acceptance, and understanding of the learning disability are the first steps to success. Understanding our difficulties means that we can make adaptations in lessons and support as necessary: extra time in examinations, use of technology, literacy and numeracy programmes, over-learning, metacognition, mindset programmes, memory activities, or whatever it is that a young person needs.

However, we also know that you know your children best, so it is vital that you are a significant part of the process of identifying SEN. Often, it is the parent who knows the child like no other who notices the emergence of difficulties. If you have noticed that your child is struggling or even having an unrelated difficulty, which could be the result of struggling academically, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school and ask for support if it hasn’t been offered.

Teamwork is the dreamwork!

Children are happiest and have the best chance for success if the teachers and parents are all on board and support the child together as a team. It is also vital that your child is getting the same supportive messages at home and school. Your child’s teacher can give you suggestions on how you can help your child at home, although this doesn’t always mean just helping with homework.

Support at home can include having a set predictable routine, spending quality time together, discussing likes and interests or current events, watching TV or movies together, and playing games together. Of course, reading together with your child when they are young is vital, but it’s important to keep encouraging reading as they grow older.

Learning difficulties don’t have to impact a person’s chances of success. Many famous people did not allow having a learning difficulty to define them so people with special educational needs can be found in all professions. A diagnosis is not a label; rather, it is a way for everyone working with a child to best understand and meet their needs. A diagnosis allows us to best support them. When the school and the family work together, we see the best academic outcomes, and your child will feel supported and safe.

In a recent Nord Anglia INSIGHTS article, Jenny Anderson discusses the importance of valuing our children for who they are and not what they achieve.

By Pauline Mably, Head of Whole School Learning Support, and Kristi Lú─Źna, Primary Learning Support Teacher at The British International School Bratislava