Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Help! Im worried about my child's school report

Many of our children will be receiving their school reports this week or next, so I have included this blog post from the great team at Talking Matters. As they report, there are many reasons why it might not be good including language and communication causes. Read the post and see if it rings any bells:

School reports are coming out at this time of year and sometimes the results are not what parents or children hoped they would be.  Here are some things that might help if you are concerned about your child’s results:
If your child is having difficulties with learning checking your child’s vision and hearing is a good place to start. Make sure your child is assessed by a professional experienced with testing children. Your GP or child health nurse may be able to recommend a good audiologist and optician in your area. For more information about hearing tests log into plus.talkingmatters.com.au and look under “hearing and listening”. Children with a history of ear infections are at a higher risk of learning difficulties. Even a slight hearing loss in one ear can have a significant effect on your child’s learning. Often these can be treated easily so it is important to have these checked.     
Whether your child has a problem with vision or sight or not the next step would be to look at the way your child learns. Even if your child has new glasses or their hearing problem treated they would benefit from further assessment.  There may be other difficulties effecting their learning, they may have developed gaps in their skills and knowledge because of the difficulties they have had and they may need help to catch up.  A child who is one year behind in their school work will have to learn twice as much as other children to catch up by the end of the next year. This is more likely to happen if a child has specialised help targeted directly at the skills they need to develop.
Reading, reading comprehension, spelling and written language are all language based tasks.  A language assessment from a speech pathologist will tell about your child’s ability to understand and use words, sentences, grammar and concepts to communicate; as well as their ability to understand how sounds and letters work when reading and writing.  They can let you know how your child compares to others of the same age; what areas your child needs help in; and how they can get this extra help. Speech pathologists can also help with social skillssuch as understanding and expressing feelings, making friends and communicating with others in social settings.    
If your child has difficulties with handwriting tasks such as forming letter shapes, writing on the lines, writing quickly or neatly without getting tired; an occupational therapy assessment may be useful. OT’s can also help children who have trouble sitting still, keeping on task and concentrating.
If your child is struggling across all areas of learning an intellectual assessment from an educational psychologist can be a good place to start to pin point areas of difficulty and recommend strategies for home and school. Educational psychologists usually do an assessment and make recommendations but don’t usually provide regular ongoing support for a child’s learning; so do ask them to recommend a suitable professional who can do some regular sessions with your child to develop their skills.
If your child is having difficulties with behaviour a child psychologist can be of help to work with you and your child to manage these difficulties and can also provide strategies for school. They will also let you know if further assessment is needed in relation to underlying causes for behavioural issues.  
For more information on learning, literacy and language check our website talkingmatters.com.au  You can also download articles, information and activities at plus.talkingmatters.com.au on a range of topics about children.


  1. I've just finished writing reports, and I know that the parents who won't like what I've said will come and see me and shout, (no, really, his lack of progress is due to his 84% attendance!)and the parents for whom I confirm their feelings will come and see me and need support and next steps, (at least 2 with dyslexic tendencies that need assessing) and the children who desperately need help will have parents who won't come and see me at all.

  2. Some great ideas here. I think parents generally panic when it comes to school reports and parents evenings especially when they are told that their child could do with some help. They think it is their fault. Every child is different and learns in a different way. Do not panic. Use some of the advice above.

  3. Thank you for the comments. My own two struggle at school and I'm grateful for the help and support they get. As long as they've tried their best I'm happy!