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Teacher Cooperation

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: My daughter who is in primary one has learning difficulties -- unable to remember anything that has been taught -- and has a poor concentration span. She is not doing well in school. Even simple addition and subtraction causes her to make mistakes, and she is unable to understand the words "more than" or "less than" despite explanation, e.g. what is 3 more than 9 or 2 less than 8 and even. Please advise. Thank you.

A: When children begin school and you sense learning is too difficult, you are wise to be concerned. The sooner a problem is recognized, the easier it is to make change.

My first recommendation is to meet with the teacher and discuss your concerns. Does the teacher have the same concerns? If so, what is being done? If not, why not?

If the teacher is concerned, can testing be done to determine if there is a learning disability? Is your child getting extra support from someone such as a Title 1 tutor? Are their volunteers who can give your child extra practice each day? Are there suggestions for doing activities at home? Is your child correctly placed in a primary one room? These are all questions you should ask the teacher.

If the teacher is not concerned, ask why not. It could be that your daughter is developmentally appropriate for her placement and is receiving a program that will be beneficial. The pace may not be what you expected and more information or better communication may be needed.

Although you may feel uncomfortable asking a teacher a question that could be perceived as questioning her judgment, do not for a minute hesitate. Teachers know a great deal about each child in their room, but not everything. Each of us can do a better job as parent and as teacher if we join forces and share our expertise and knowledge about children. Your child's teacher will be able to give you insight on what has been happening in the learning process at school and will value your concern. Together you can be very helpful to your child.

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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