I read some advice the other day offered to parents of children who were newly diagnosed with learning differences. I agreed with most of it. “Always have hope” was advice that I could certainly support. This part, however, didn’t sit well with me:
“Channel your emotions towards the fight. The fight for services, quality education, and quality of life.”
It sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? Mama Bear sees her little one suffering, so naturally she’ll do all that she can to protect against that suffering. (I see you, too, Papa Bear. I know you do the same.)
A while back I made the case for NOT fighting your child’s school. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so.
Basically it explains what often happens when parents fight the school for what their children naturally deserve, a free and appropriate education.
Sadly, school professionals know that they’re not adequately reaching all of their struggling students. They’ve known this for years, decades even. They’ve certainly known longer than I’ve been in this line of work. For reference, I began in the mid-1990s.
And yet, history repeats itself. Countless parents have fought the good fight for services, for quality education, only to watch their children slip further behind as the years passed by.
With distance learning in the mix, this service-gap has grown even more.
If you think I blame school professionals for this sad reality, please read Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers.
I know, I know. The school system SHOULD teach your child in the way that your child learns best. To let schools off the hook, to not hold them accountable for what they SHOULD provide, feels a lot like surrendering. It feels like giving up. Mama Bear and Papa Bear? Well, they never give up.
You may have heard this Byron Katie quote elsewhere, but it’s worth repeating here.
“When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
I don’t believe that giving up the battle with the school means that you’re giving up on your child. On the contrary, I think it’s the opposite. Your energy can be better spent on more effective ways to support your child.
Fight for quality of life, yes. But what does that look like for your child, right now, in this moment? I don’t think that it looks like waiting for the entire school system to stop using the most cost-effective, one-size-fits-all approach and start tailoring education to suit the unique needs of every child. That day may never come.
Instead, let go of the idea that it’s the school’s responsibility (even though it might be) and take loving action to help your child succeed at learning.
Maybe that looks like finding a private school designed to support students with learning differences.
Maybe that looks like hiring a specialty tutor or educational therapist.
If for you that looks like helping your child improve learning abilities at home, whether in homeschool or after school, or even as a distance learning alternative, you can learn about some very powerful online parent training here.
Whichever route you take, know that children CAN overcome the “struggle” part of their learning differences. And yes, always have hope.