When report cards come home, most parents first look at the grades.
Parents understand an "A, B, C" or letter grade report card. These grades are quick and easy to interpret, as those letter grades are what most parents grew up with. Even for students who receive report cards with a different grading scale, there is often a key to help parents understand if their child is meeting grade-level standards.
But there is another section of the report card that might hold some hidden insights that tell you even more about how your child is performing in the classroom.
Don’t miss the important information in the teacher's comments!
Teacher comments can sometimes seem vague, but they often contain the little nuggets of information that can be big red flags that your child is struggling in the classroom. Here are our top 3 teacher comments that are clues something is going on with your child and that you may want to look into further.
1. “Your child requires frequent reminders to…”
If your child requires “frequent reminders” they are having to be told to do something more often than their peers are having to be told to do the same task. This comment indicates that a gap exists between your child’s performance and that of their peers.
Frequent reminders to complete the steps in a morning routine, find homework, get started on assignments, or keep a desk neat may indicate executive functioning needs. Students with executive functioning difficulties struggle in the areas outlined in the diagram below.
Additionally, a teacher may say that your child needs frequent reminders to edit their writing for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. We contend that if your child is consistently struggling with spelling and basic writing skills, it may be indicative of a bigger challenge.
Your child may have a learning disability that is impacting their ability to share their ideas in writing. They may need specialized instruction to help them learn how to spell and write. It may well be that your child isn’t “forgetting” to edit and need reminders, but that they need to be explicitly taught how to spell, write or edit their writing.
2. “Your child just needs to read more!”
For years teachers have been trained to use a whole language or balanced literacy approach to teach reading. As part of this approach, teachers were taught that one of the best ways to teach children to read is to expose them to more text.
Therefore, teachers often tell their students who are struggling with reading to read more. This comment is a big red flag that lets parents know that the teacher believes the child is struggling in reading.
Fortunately, the tide in literacy instruction is slowly turning toward structured and explicit literacy instruction. More and more teachers are beginning to understand that many students, especially those with dyslexia, cannot learn to read simply by being exposed to more text.
However, as of 2023, most schools are still teaching students in the general education classroom to read using ineffective strategies. Students with dyslexia who are struggling to read need to be taught with specialized instruction through special education services.
3. “Your child needs to show more effort.”
Behaviors that look like a “lack of effort” are often manifestations of an unidentified and/or unsupported learning disability.
A child who struggles in a particular academic area may show avoidance behaviors when asked to complete those difficult tasks. For example, a child reading below grade level may show some of the following behaviors when asked to complete a reading assignment.
Typical avoidance behaviors may include:
Frequent trips to the bathroom, pencil sharpener, etc.
Socializing with friends during work time
Outright work refusal
Acting out in class
At first glance, all of these activities may seem like a child is simply not trying their best, but we encourage parents to dig a little deeper. Look for patterns of behavior. Are these behaviors happening at a particular time of day? Are these behaviors triggered by a particular type of assignment?
Students with learning disabilities are often told that they are not trying hard enough because their final work output does not always look like the work of their peers. If your child is struggling to sound out and correctly form every letter they put on paper, their writing may be shorter or include less detail than their peers. It may become sloppy or have more errors toward the end of the writing because the child is fatiguing from the effort put into every single letter. The end result may look like a work sample that shows very little effort when in reality quite the opposite is true.
Children with learning disabilities are the hardest workers in the classroom!
So, what do you do if your child’s teacher has shared some or all of these red flags with you?
If your child is struggling in school, your child may have a learning disability and be entitled to individualized support and services based on their unique needs. The only way to know if your child has a learning disability or qualifies for special education services and support is to request that the school district complete a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation.
We’ve created the articles listed below to help you understand more about how to get an evaluation and begin the special education process.
If you have additional questions or need hands-on advocacy support, please contact us at 540-751-8487. We’d love to talk to you!
As an educational advocate with over a decade of experience, Lorraine and her team are here to answer your tough questions and share the possibilities that exist when you hire the right professional to advocate for your child.
Are you worried that your dyslexic child is falling behind in school?
Are you ready to see your child learn and thrive?
If so, let's start with a consultation where we can provide personal and professional recommendations. Click the link below to schedule your consultation today!