Michael believed that if he tried hard and kept working at something, he’d succeed. He could succeed at school. He was sure of it. He said that nobody had told him this—not his parents, not his grandparents. How did he know? It was the message in his fortune cookie in a Chinese restaurant–so it must be true.
It’s a cute story but in Michael’s case, luckily only partly true. In fact he had wonderful support from his parents and his grandparents. They cheered him on every day as he struggled with severe language issues.
Although Michael could speak when he was five, nobody could understand him. His family was concerned with school and worried about his future. By the time I met Michael, he had been through three years of neurologists, audiologists, pediatricians, and speech therapists.
I started working with Michael when he entered kindergarten and continued meeting with him through high school. Between the school and hour-long weekly tutoring sessions, Michael succeeded. Sure there were rough times. At times, Michael became so frustrated that he would pound his fist on the table because he couldn’t retrieve the words he needed to express himself. But, through everything, Michael’s family never walked away.
They accepted his strengths and weaknesses, supported him daily and respected his needs. He’s in college now, wants to be an engineer. He’s an amazing math student! And he now talks up a storm!
Michael’s story shows that even with odds stacked against him from the get-go, with the proper support, success in school and beyond is attainable. However, it takes a great deal of effort on three main fronts: the child, his parents and his teacher. But it starts at home with you.
All parents, like Michael’s, want their kids to do well in school. How well children do in school and beyond is determined by their own special genes (nature) and experiences (nurture). Sometimes their genes contain special “gifts” from the past. For example, they may have inherited their Great-Grandpa Joe’s dyslexia or Grandma Sue’s love of reading.
Some children are extroverts like their dad and get A’s in class participation, while others are introverts like their Aunt Sally, and are very happy just to listen and take it all in. Many parents have a fantasy of a child they want their child to be, but it may not be the child they have.
To ensure school success and beyond, you need to
1. Accept your child for who he is.
2. Support your child in any way you can.
3. Respect your child so that she can reach her full potential.
These are three of the most important factors in school success. Since you—Mom and Dad—are the most important significant others in your child’s life, your acceptance, support and respect are essential to her emotional, social and intellectual growth.
In fact, these three factors are the building blocks of positive self-esteem, which is of the highest importance to ensure school success.