5 min read
Questions that will be answered:
–How can parents determine their child’s current academic skills?
–What at-home standardized measures are available to parents?
–How can parents effectively respond to their child’s remote learning challenges?
–-How can you interview potential tutors or counselors or evaluators
COVID-19 has created an intensely pressurized and chaotic situation for parents of students in the remote learning model. Many parents are struggling to determine how much their child is actually learning. Schools are struggling to deliver curriculum in a quality manner.
Surveys report students are struggling with high levels of anxiety, depression and school avoidance and/or low academic motivation. See here for how we can lift our students out of their swamp of distress. You need to be proactive so this academic year does not feel wasted! Click here to see my discussion about how to help your child find their most important Mentor.
A tremendous variability exists in the quality of the remote learning models being offered around the country. More technologically adept teachers have created learning environments that are commensurate with what they offered when the child was physically present in class. Other teachers who struggle with technology are offering vastly diminished learning experiences.
Given lack of technological know-how and/or lack of resources, many school districts are offering a model where the student is to some degree experiencing a homeschooling-like experience.
Many innovative parents are now finding better online education opportunities for their child than what their home school district is offering!!!!
Understandably, many parents are scratching their heads and wondering what their child is actually learning. How much is this year’s education actually going to amount to? Will my child have to repeat this year? Is my child going to hit the wall next year when they have to enter the next grade given this year’s watered-down curriculum?
Meanwhile, parents are struggling to determine how they can actually rate their student’s progress. This is a particularly acute issue for parents of students who are in a critical transitional phase of their academics, such as eighth-graders entering high school next year or high school seniors entering college next year.
It is critical for parents to utilize appropriate monitoring and measuring methods in order to truly know where their student is so that next year the student will be ready for the next grade. Many different ways to monitor and/or measure your child skills are available across a wide variety of areas. You would be surprised how many standardized measures are available!
I have been working in the trenches with parents since the beginning of Covid-19 and have developed a list of the most effective strategies parents can use:
1) Use a nationally normed measure to determine your child’s academic strengths and skill gaps; have their Full Profile revealed.
If you are not sure how much your child is actually learning, and you want to use the rest of the school year (and summer) to make sure you fill in any content gaps, you can have your child take the Stanford 10 test online. This is a nationally standardized measure that offers either a short version or a comprehensive version. I recommend the comprehensive version because it covers the key areas of reading, mathematics, language, spelling, listening, science, and social science. Here is a link to an overview description and table revealing content areas this well-known measure assesses.
You can schedule with one of several online testing companies, and this measure would take the student approximately 2.5 hours across two days. They can do this at home, and the cost with Seton Testing (which I like given their great customer service) is $35.00. Disclosure: I have no financial relationship with Seton Testing. Spending $35.00 now can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars later on if learning problems or content deficiencies are not caught early enough.
2) If your child has emotional behavioral problems that remote learning has exacerbated, you can consult a tutor who specializes in helping students develop specific strategies to approach material they find frustrating.
Children with ADHD find remote learning especially challenging. They struggle mightily to stay focused at home in their room where the environment is not set up to keep them focused. I highly recommend consulting a local tutor or learning coach who specializes in kids with ADHD. They can give you a user-friendly set of environmental tweaks so that your child can focus more easily.
But be careful, many tutors or coaches are not using the most up-to-date evidence-based methods Here is a link to my blog about 12 questions to ask any mentor or coach you are considering working with. A local Tucson tutor I have worked with closely with whom I am impressed is Jane Bick. You should always ask the tutor “What research do you draw from to choose the tools you use?” I can ask jane this question at any time and she will without hesitation clarify the scientific basis of her approach.
A significant and growing amount of evidence-based methods can be used to teach those with focusing problems the skills to focus better. Remember, even if your child is on medication, medication does not teach skills. It only temporarily alters the biochemistry of the body. Your child needs to learn skills in order to be ready for their next stage.
3) Hire an academic tutor to work with your child on their weakest areas. This tutor can provide any additional curriculum enhancement so your child will definitely be competent in that grade level and be ready for the next level. Some tutors may be able to meet with your child physically, which can help your child feel like they were making physical contact with an educational professional.
This can make all the difference, especially for children who have a higher need for stimulation, such as those with ADHD. Example: Professionals in some regions of the country can meet outside with your student. I am doing with my counseling clients.
4) If your student’s school is falling far short of your expectations, consider the possibility that you can augment their education with a parallel homeschooling curriculum. One of the most impressive online K-12 schools is the program offered by Arizona State University. More and more students are going to high school online. However, your child can consider attending the local high school part-time and using an online learning program for part of their education. Patchworking together different educational systems is becoming more common.
5) If your child is 14 years or older and is floundering in school, consider the importance of having them work with a skilled career guidance professional. By being able to see their future more clearly, your student can feel more motivated to work harder—even on classes they are currently struggling with—if they can see how a certain class relates to a future vocational or career goal.
A vast amount of social science research shows that human personality is relatively stable even as early as the later adolescent years. In other words, it is possible to determine the most likely careers or vocational tracks well before college. In fact, the college “choose your major” system has failed for the most part. Because students change majors on average six times during college, families can go into significant debt paying for classes that do not end up being a critical part of the education.
Again, buyer beware! The vast majority of career guidance professionals do not have significant training in personality assessment. Personality assessment is integral to a systematic, rigorous, and reliable career selection methodology, resulting in your child identifying a precise path from where they are now to their eventual career destination.
I’m currently working on a book to discuss my innovative method trademarked as Precisely Engineered Career Guidance. Here is one of my latest blogs with my latest evolution in my time tested method.
6) Use COVID-19 as an opportunity to evaluate if an accredited homeschooling program is a better way for your child to be educated, or can provide a parallel and augmentative learning environment. A growing trend of “Accidental Homeschoolers” started out with traditional education but discovered that technology is quickly transforming mainstream education into a warehouse of valuable opportunities.
One of the leading home school programs serving students in grades 7-12 is offered by Stanford University.. Even if you feel that a homeschool model is not right for your child, it is worth exploring this kind of online program in order to be able to critically evaluate your student’s current education.
7) Consult a highly trained child psychologist who specializes in emotional, behavioral, and learning assessment, to create a precise intervention for any problems.
What you need to look for is not someone whose ultimate goal is a diagnosis, but to give you and your student a functional grasp of key dynamics.
Buyer beware: in my experience, psychologists who work with children and communities tend to fall into a couple of different types. One type is a school psychologist who has largely been trained in a school setting and has a low level of knowledge about emotional and behavioral issues. A second type of child psychologist has deep training in both school psychology and clinical psychology, such that they can determine the degree your child’s current struggles are due to learning and/or cognitive issues, versus emotional and/or behavioral factors.
If you’re uncertain that the child psychologist can deliver what you’re looking for, ask them to provide you with a few sample reports. This is something I often do for clients. Too many psychologists hide their reports. After reports are appropriately sanitized so confidentiality is protected, there is no reason why a psychologist cannot release examples of their reports. You should read these sample reports and feel like the psychologist has been able to turn your child inside out, to reveal the innermost issues.
After 15 years of assessing and/or counseling over 1,000 students, my opinion is a large majority of psychological assessments are very generic and not good investments.
In fact, I have evolved into a style of drawing out a cognitive map of the key factors in play that captures the dynamics into a flowchart, in this flowchart, parents can easily see the relationship among factors contributing to the problems. Parents love this, as do I, as the field of psychology tends to be nonspecific and vague. We need to move toward more of a precisely engineered model where we visually map out dynamic processes. I will be discussing this approach in my upcoming book about my rigorously engineered career guidance called Precisely Engineered Career Guidance. Some of my latest thoughts that will be going into my book are in this blog.
Final Advice: Do not let your anxiety result in analysis paralysis and handwringing. Be proactive and have your child undergo some assessment in order to understand concretely where they are across the key content domains. Remember, you can easily involve your child’s current teachers by emailing them some critical questions so you can get a handle on where your child currently stands. Here is a link to a blog where I discussed the three most important questions you can ask your child’s teacher.