Understand Your Child’s Struggles, Abilities, Learning Styles, and Behavior
A psycho-educational assessment is typically conducted by a clinical psychologist and can include a comprehensive evaluation of:
- Intellectual abilities (IQ)
- Cognitive skills
- Processing speed
- Executive functioning
- Fine motor skills
- Strengths and interests
- Learning styles
- Sensory processing
- Visual-motor integration
- Social/emotional functioning
One of the most common questions parents ask is, “Why should I have my child assessed—how could it help?” Help with problems is only one reason. A comprehensive and well-done assessment can provide so much more than a diagnosis.
Here are 5 reasons to seek an assessment:
Get Direction: Findings and recommendations from a high-quality assessment can serve as a guide for choosing optimal learning environments, identifying areas of challenge, highlighting strengths that can be used to contend with challenge areas, developing intervention, picking electives, choosing extracurricular and recreation activities, exploring career paths, etc.
End the Guess Work: A well-done integrated assessment eliminates “guess work” when trying to understand your child’s behavior, successes, failures, pursuits, and refusals. Children do not wake up in the morning and set out to be “difficult.” Avoidance of activities, melt downs, fatigue, inconsistent performance, unpredictable behavior, and bad moods are all red flags that something is going on. An assessment tells you what your child cannot communicate in words.
Uncover the “WHY”: Why is my child behind in school? Why is homework an epic battle? Why does my child have a tummy ache on school mornings? Why is he disrupting the classroom? Why does she not seem to “hear” what I say, and why do I have to repeat myself so much? Why is my child so bored at school? Why does school come easily for my oldest child, but my youngest struggles? Why is he excelling in math but refusing to read? Why does it take him so long to do chores? Why has she lost the love of learning and the “spark” in her eye? Why is my child not invited to birthday parties? Why can he name, identify, and categorize the dinosaurs but cannot tie his shoes or remember his backpack for school? Why does she “behave” so well at school, church, and soccer practice, but “lose it” at home? Why does my child (fill in the blank), and is that normal?
Satisfy Your Curiosity: How is my child really doing? What is really going on in that head of hers? How does he learn? What is her brain really good at? Is she gifted? What are his brain’s challenges? What are her hidden desires, temperament, fears, etc.? Essentially, what is my child’s “current,” and how can I help him keep his boat pointed down stream? How can I monitor progress? Should I monitor progress? Should I be concerned about or supportive of (fill in the blank)?
Unlock Full Potential: Every child is as unique as a fingerprint… with a distinctive blend of temperament, desires, preferences, abilities, learning styles, ideas, talents, vision, and emotions. All humans are born with an innate desire to learn, expand, and experience happiness in their own special ways. Everyone wants to be successful—but success means something different for everyone. High-quality, comprehensive assessment helps unlock a child’s full potential by providing unmatched insights, perspectives, and direction.
“Live the life you were meant to live!”
©2016 Individual Matters. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share this article with others, as well as to print or post it on other websites, so long as credit is given to the author.
Ten Tips for Encouraging your Middle Schooler to Read More
Whether your middle schooler likes to read or avoids it entirely, here are ten simple and effective ways to engage and encourage him to read more often.
- Connect books to life. If your reader likes Harry Potter, consider learning magic with him. If he likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid, help him create a journal. If he likes Hunger Games, go to an archery range. If he likes mystery, create a dinner mystery at home. If his book has been made into a movie, ballet, or play, go see it. If he likes outdoor adventure books, go hiking or camping. Bringing a book to life through real-world activities is not just fun, it also helps your reader connect with story and characters on a deeper level.
- Create a “book culture.” Take your reader to book signings. Go to local author events. Research an author, his background and interests – maybe write him letter and ask him questions (authors really do enjoy these). Schedule trips to the bookstore on Saturday mornings, during which you each get breakfast and coffee/hot chocolate, and read or peruse books for an hour.
- Go to a university library. Take your reader to the archives where the “old” books are kept. Imagine how much time and effort someone put into writing each one. See who can find the oldest (or weirdest) book. Look at the pictures. Smell the books. Look for ghosts. Then let your reader observe all the “cool” college kids reading at the library.
- Create a Summer Reading Challenge…for the entire family. Set a page count to be reached by the end of summer. Identify individual goals that are appropriate for each family member. Choose a fun reward to enjoy when the family reaches its goal (maybe a family rafting trip). Create a log so that reading progress can be tracked throughout the summer – review this at dinner time.
- Encourage your reader to create his own stories. These don’t have to be entirely original (you might notice they are based loosely on a book currently being read). Story-making unlocks imagination, nurtures appreciation of the creative process, and encourages outside-the-box thinking.
- Listen to books on tape. Take a minute to count up all the time you spend in the car together – on the way to and from school, the grocery, baseball practice, on trips, etc. Ask your reader to pick out a book on tape/CD from the library, and keep this in the car stereo. Every time you go somewhere, you can listen to another chapter. This offers a much better alternative to radio “noise,” helps your child transition to new activities, and provides a much needed escape from the reality of school and the dramatic lives of young adults.
- Let him read what he wants. If your reader is drawn only to Calvin and Hobbes, that’s fine. If he likes sports magazines, no problem. The goal is to encourage him to read, not to dictate what he reads. Kids are far more likely to read when they can pick what interests them. Besides, an astute parent knows that what a child chooses to read offers key information about his natural passions, interests, and gifts… Pay attention to these selections, as they can provide invaluable direction when it comes time to help him select a college major or career years from now.
- Read what he is reading… and read with him. If your reader enjoys Harry Potter, read Harry Potter. If he likes military history, read military history. And better yet, read a chapter or two aloud every night with him. This activity shows love, respect, and interest in your reader.
- Let him see you reading. If you want your child to read, model reading. Turn off the television and unplug the internet. Make a cup of cocoa and a snack, put on some classical music if you’d like, and read. Or pack a picnic, go to the park, and pick out a nice shade tree.
- Get an evaluation. If your child avoids reading altogether, complains about his eyes hurting, skips (or rereads) lines, inserts (or misses words), or has difficulty recounting what he has read…. consider having him evaluated to rule out a visual processing problem or other challenge that may negatively impact his ability to read.
Do you have ideas? Please comment below or email me with your own successes – I will compile them in a follow up blog post.
– Dr. Katen