You want your child to succeed in school but sometimes worry that he or she is struggling, perhaps even with a learning disability. Your concerns may be unfounded, of course, and to help, we’re sharing four tips to help you find out how well your child is keeping up in school. learning-disability

#1 Regularly Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

When you create a comfortable relationship with your child’s teacher, this opens the door to helpful conversations about how your child is doing this school year. Ideally, a teacher will alert you with any concerns about your child’s reading and writing abilities, and any academic growth issues. But teachers get busy, even overwhelmed—and may therefore plan to catch you up at the next school conference. When you develop a good rapport with the teacher, though, you can easily check in for progress reports. And if you begin to suspect a problem, from a small one to a potential learning disability, you can discuss your observations with the teacher and ask for recommendations to improve your child’s reading, writing and more.

#2 Communicate with Other Parents

You may not want to directly ask other parents how they think your child is doing this school year. But, by simply talking with them—when dropping off or picking up your child or going on a field trip with the class—you can listen and learn. You can also offer comments, perhaps about your child not enjoying the art class or reading circle, then asking if other parents have heard similar comments from their children. Many times, you may learn that, yes, what’s going on in reading circle isn’t all that captivating right now to more than just your child. Children’s interest during a school year may ebb and flow; that’s natural and not necessarily a sign that your child is struggling in school, overall.

#3 Chat with Your Child

As an article in points out, children whose families have sit-down dinners do better in school. This arrangement gives families a chance to talk about their days, and is an ideal opportunity to ask your child questions that can’t have a yes/no answer—perhaps, “What book did you read in your circle today?” Review materials your child’s teacher sends you, perhaps a class newsletter, and chat with your child about its contents. “Hey, Martin, what did you think about that presentation about turtles last week?” Don’t worry if your young child’s answers aren’t always structured and logical. Instead, use these opportunities to get a pulse check about how well your child is connecting with material at school.

#4 Monitor Homework

A publication by the U.S. Department of Education provides plenty of information on this topic, as well as other topics related to helping your child be the best he or she can be in school. When you monitor your child’s homework, you’ll likely get a sense of how easily reading and writing comes to your child. Don’t panic if it takes time for your child to comprehend the lesson. Homework is intended to stretch your child’s knowledge and skills and serves as a tool to allow the teacher to benchmark progress.

To help your child succeed in homework, create a special, fairly quiet place for studying—one with good lighting and the necessary school supplies. Set aside a regular time for homework, experimenting with times to determine when your child is at his or her best. Some do best right after school; others after a healthy snack, and still others need to run and play for a while before settling in, perhaps after dinner. Remove distractions from television to telephone, and encourage toddlers and preschoolers, if any are in your home, to play elsewhere. Some children do better in a library setting.

And after you’ve done all you can to create an optimal homework setting, if your child still seems to struggle, that’s a key sign it’s time to talk to the teacher.

If you ultimately have reason to suspect your child has a learning disability, we recommend this helpful article by the National Institutes of Health for more information.

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