My kids are headed back to school in just three days. This has probably been the fastest summer to date - or at least it feels that way. 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 un-diagnosed and even unnoticed by parents and teachers. People tend to classify learning issues as something big and noticeable. He manages, don’t get me wrong. But he has to really stay on top of things to keep himself organized and on task so he doesn't loose focus, which happens easily – 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. Today she maintains nearly straight A's in all of her classes. She is determined!
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.
Check out these back-to-school tips from the Understood.org website. They helped my family; hopefully, they can help yours too.
- Planning early is important to help relieve stress. Creating structure and routine around the start of the new school year—with checklists, calendars, and other organization systems— helps prepare kids for class expectations. We especially love the Back-to-School Countdown Planner and sample Homework Contract that can actually be used with kids of any age!
- You can also take your child on a school tour to help ease fears by showing them how to find their classroom, nearby bathrooms, the cafeteria and other important places the first week of school. This can be a huge stress relief whether the child is new to the school or not. Just knowing where to go can help them feel more comfortable.
- Connecting with your child’s teacher early on benefits everyone and creates a great starting point for the new year. This will give you an opportunity to share your child’s needs or learning style while expressing your support for the teacher and the challenges he/she may be facing with a new classroom full of students. You will help create an atmosphere of cooperation while speaking up for your child and his or her challenges.
- Finally, get support! Many parents and students are going through the same experience. org and Understood’s Facebook page connect parents across the country to share information and learn from each other. You can also ask around your community and school to find other parents you can connect with.
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).