Friday, 25 March 2011

Don't give up on the child with poor marks

Parent's Evening during the early grades always went the same way. "Your son is mischievous, he isn't working to his potential. But he is such a delightful boy. I love teaching him."

In Gr 3 his teacher said there could be a problem with his reading. As an ex optometrist I knew quite a bit about child development and perceptual problems. I took him to various professionals to check vision, hearing etc. and for extra reading lessons. An OT offered some hope. She said his right and left brain weren't connecting well. But as he was already good at judo, swimming and gymnastics she struggled to find any activities that brought about more integration.

By early Gr 5 his marks were on a slippery slide downhill. We had a meeting with his teachers but they said we expected too much of him. "He isn't like his older sister. He just needs to apply himself a bit better. He'll end up a fair 60 percenter." I knew that wasn't true. He was sometimes quite brilliant.

We wanted him to change schools and he wanted to stay. So we said it was up to him to turn his marks around.

Then we stumbled across a person who could assess his brain dominance profile. The profile showed us the strange way in which he processed information and that when stressed his brain "closed down" - information couldn't go in or out. The practitioner was able to show him that he wasn't stupid. He needed to do things like using colours, sitting where he couldn't be distracted easily and having a ball of prestick handy to fiddle with. He also had some Tomatis therapy to stimulate the brain integration.

From this point onwards his self confidence began recovering, he learnt ways to calm himself and to work with, instead of against, his own style. He was also lucky to have a couple of terrific subject teachers the following year. His marks picked up and by the end of Gr 7 he won the award for top Technology student.

One of those terrific teachers was an ex headmaster with many years of experience. At prize giving I went to thank him. He said "Your son still hasn't reached his real potential. Just wait. He will come into his own in Gr 11/12."

This year he is in Gr 11 working towards a fully academic matric. Today the first term reports were issued. His results - two A's and an A+ and two more A's knocking at the door!