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The Wrong Punishment

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My fourth-grader has a learning disability. I'm concerned about his teacher's idea of punishment -- she makes her students write essays whenever they do something wrong. For example, my son did his homework on lined paper instead of the correct sheet and she made him write an essay on why he did that. What is this teaching my child?

A: This teacher may have good intentions of helping children develop their writing skills, but for a child with a learning difference, this consequence can be extremely difficult. Ask for a conference with your son's teacher and explain your concerns. Also talk with the school counselor and the principal and ask for their help in supporting your son.

If your son's identified learning difference is in written language, talk with his teacher for exceptional children about modifying his Individual Education Plan (IEP). That is the official place for any needed classroom modifications, including limitations of how much writing is required.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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