Saturday, April 18, 2009


Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call at work from a Mother with a hunch. The conversation begins with a simple request about services I provide as a Learning Coach. Then I probe a little as to specific areas of her concern and then the floodgates open. I get a litany of symptoms and observable characteristics about a son or daughter having trouble in school. Her child might not have a formal diagnosis but as a Mother she is able to articulate what her child experiences, describe the extra help her child has been given and tell me what is not working.

Who is this child? This child is healthy and one of average to above average intelligence. This child has no unusual socio-cultural factors or unusual socioeconomic hardships to deal with. This child attends an above average school given appropriate and adequate instruction by a teacher with a Master’s Degree. The curriculum is taught comprehensively, systematically and explicitly.

This child has gone to preschool or daycare providing a language rich environment, promoting literacy with the fundamental building blocks of reading, writing, math and science. This child has attended a Kindergarten where lessons were presented to enhance phonemic awareness and children get phonics instruction so that they integrate the concept that letters and letter groups represent the sounds in spoken language. From 1st to 3rd grade this child is immersed in decoding strategies, spelling lessons, vocabulary acquisition, sight word attack as well as attention to skill development in reading comprehension and fluency.

As this Mother tells me more about her child’s situation she says that despite having the best of circumstances AND EXTRA HELP AT SCHOOL her child is struggling. He is beginning to doubt his own abilities and has started to use the “S” word. Yes, he is beginning to refer to himself as “stupid.” In her gut this Mother knows that there is a way to reach her child but it is not by giving him more of the same approach. She wants to know if I can reach him via his strengths, using her child’s gifts and talents as a doorway into his style of learning.

This Mother with a hunch, this Mother who trusts her gut and is willing to think creatively and out of the box, sometimes seeks the road less traveled. This Mother is the hero of her child because she took the first step to setting his feet on his path to success.

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