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Child Behaves Differently at Home Than at School

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: My daughter, who will start kindergarten next year, attends a special education preschool. At home, she's age-appropriate with her speech and other abilities. At school she's very quiet and does not use speech. The teachers say her "affect" is flat/withdrawn and are recommending a special education classroom for next year. I strongly disagree because she is a lively, happy, and appropriate child at home, who is still a little behind in speech. So I showed her teachers a video of her just acting the way she does on a regular day at home, and they couldn't believe it was the same child.

What do I do: Agree to the special education classroom because of my daughter's behavior at school or push for regular kindergarten since her abilities are age-appropriate?

A: You really have a number of options here. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. How about trying at least some time in a regular education class? Is there a setting where regular and special education kindergartens are housed in the same place? How about a summer program? Can she spend at least part of her day in a regular education setting? Many regular education settings today are much more inclusive in nature, where children with diverse needs are given the accommodations they need to function well in those settings.

Take some time now to sit down with your child's teacher to see exactly what kinds of accommodations she would need in a regular class. What you don't want is for her to be dropped into a regular education setting without appropriate supports in place for her. If she does well in a part-time regular education setting, her time there can be increased. Enlist the aid of your school guidance counselor or other support personnel to help you with this plan.

More on: Expert Advice

For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.


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