5. Homework time is crucial.
Young children with learning difficulties, as well as those without any documented problems, can benefit from their parents’ involvement during homework time. Parents should set aside time for a structured “homework session” each evening. A good routine might start like this: Create space on a desk to work; help him clean out his backpack; review the day’s assignments; and discuss the homework as well as any questions about it. You can observe your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses this way while also reinforcing good study habits. Be positive and encouraging.
6. Don’t jump to conclusions.
Kids grow and develop at different rates. Ideally, a child will acquire various skills within expected time periods, but she may develop more quickly in one area than another. Parents often worry when, for example, one 5-year-old can read fluently while another can barely sound out words on the page. But a lag in one area of development doesn’t mean a child has a disorder. If you think there might be a problem with your child’s development, talk to her teacher. A seasoned teacher, with about 10 years of experience, can frame your child’s progress in relation to as many as 300 other kids. Good teachers are invaluable allies.
Additionally: Did you know your stress can negatively impact your child? Learn how to control your stress so your family as a whole can be healthier.
Harold S. Koplewicz, M.D., the founding president of the Child Mind Institute in Manhattan, is one of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists. He is widely recognized as an innovator in the field, a strong advocate for child mental health, and a master clinician. Dr. Koplewicz founded the NYU Child Study Center in 1997 and served as its director for 12 years. Since 1997 he has been the editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.” A frequent TV guest, his most recent book is “More Than Moody: Recognizing and Treating Adolescent Depression.”
The Child Mind Institute is an NYC-based nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming mental health care for children everywhere. Visit childmind.org for a wealth of information related to your child with special needs, including strategies for dealing with diagnosis and behavior, symptoms and signs, practical tools, videos, and more.