When a child is falling behind is school, the first thing I do is assume is that I am dealing with a person who is a bit different from the norm; a person who is having trouble coping with an establishment which does not nurture or even recognize his unique gifts, but instead
is determined to "correct" him. I logically assume that I am dealing with a right brained visual spatial child. In my forty years of experience teaching children, this assumption has never been wrong. After all, few children who have fantastic verbal memories, and love math and spelling ever have any difficulty in school.
Most of those kids have had about all the pressure they can handle. They are often discouraged. Deep down they know that they can't do what the teacher wants them to do, though they sometimes try and hide it through disruptive behavior. They know they can't be what the adults around them want them to be. To help ease their high stress level and deal with their pain and frustration, I share my experiences and understanding. I tell them that I have trouble with spelling and math is hard for me, but I also firmly express that they can cope. I wanted to be a teacher and I did it, even graduating with honors. It can be done!
Of course it helps, but you do not have to be visual spatial to accept and support others who learn in a different manner. You just need to accept that God has created each of us each with different gifts, and instead of trying to correct weaknesses, encourage talents.
Think of a school where all subjects are taught at once; math, music, science, spelling, history, English, and art. People work individually studying topics of interest to them with the teacher acting as a guide. They would be allowed to share their work creatively through written reports, poems, stories, art, charts, videos and demonstrations in small groups or just with their teacher. Whether this sounds like heaven or hell depends on who you are and what your gifts are. For me it would be heaven. To some it would be hell.
I heard of a young girl; a top student who always excelled in every school subject. Suddenly, she started becoming ill a couple of afternoons each week and even had to have her mother come to school and take her home. After several weeks, her teacher and mother realized that she always became ill right before art class. This girl was an artistic klutz. Art was very difficult for her. It was not her natural talent, and she couldn't bare anyone finding out about her lack of artistic ability.
Look for the child's talents and help the child use their talents to cope with school requirements.
I made it through school because I could express my thoughts well (given allowance for poor spelling and handwriting- I learned early to type). I flunked the fill in the blank part of the test, but was saved by the essay! I could't remember the date, but I could explain the significance of the Stamp Act. It Can Be Done!
I'll explain later how I coped with school.
see my articles
Helping your Struggling Student
Helping Children Learn