Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Frustrated Third-Grader

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

Q: I have an eight-year-old who has an IEP coming up. When she was five they sent her to a special day class. During the year they said she was way ahead of the rest of the class, and really belonged in a regular first grade with Resource Room help. Things have been going pretty well for a while. But now she's getting frustrated with third-grade work. It's too hard. She needs lots of help. I'm wondering how we know when to push the school to put her in a special class again. She's a very stubborn, emotional child. She has ADD/ADHD tendencies, but we don't want to medicate. We want her teacher to nicely remind her to be on task. I just want my daughter to be happy and not frustrated all the time.

A: You've asked some really important questions. If your child is coming up for a new IEP, this means that her original testing will be done again to see what kind of progress she has made over the last three years. When you have that information, you (and the team doing the evaluation) will be able to make a more informed decision about the kind of services your daughter needs. The team doing the evaluation must talk to you about all the possible placements they are considering. One of the major advantages of a small, self-contained special class, of course, is that instruction can be more focused on children's particular needs for an extended period of time. But there may be other ways to meet your daughter's needs. For example, Resource Room time may be increased so she can get more attention outside the classroom. A special education teacher can also come into the regular classroom and give her support right there.

Third-grade work can be very challenging. There is often a real shift away from learning how to read and towards reading more independently to learn new information. If your child is struggling and frustrated, it certainly seems like she needs more support. Ask if there's a parent advocate available to be with you at the IEP conference to help you make the best decision possible. You can also call the toll-free number for the International Dyslexia Association (1-800-ABCD123) or Learning Disabilities Association (1-888-300-6710) to see if there is a local branch where you can receive more guidance and support. Good luck!

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.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of 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.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks