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What can I do if my child is falling behind at school?

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

As parents, we all want to see our children succeed in life. Of course, we want them to become the unique individuals they’ve been created to be, and we want to allow them the time and space to develop at their own pace. However, we don’t want to see them floundering socially or academically amongst their peers.

Are you concerned about your child’s academic progress? Perhaps you’ve expressed your concerns to a family member or teacher but have just been met with the ‘don’t worry’, ‘give them time’ or ‘they’ll catch up’ responses. Deep down, you want to explore your options for supporting your child but don’t know where to begin.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

So, what should you do if you feel your child is being ‘left behind?

1. Don’t panic.

Take a deep breath. There is plenty of help available.

Teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, tutors and speech pathologists are some of the professionals who can help you understand your child’s learning needs.

2. Book an appointment with a speech pathologist

As speech pathologists, we offer a unique perspective on your child’s learning abilities. We approach their learning from the very foundational skills that begin in infancy.

My child can speak clearly; why should they see a speech pathologist?

Speech pathologists are the professionals who best understand language and communication. We have the tools to interpret your child’s language abilities and literacy skills and identify factors that may affect their academic progress.

Language underpins all learning. We use language to think, reason, solve problems and make decisions. We communicate our thoughts and ideas, engage in discussions, form friendships and interact with the world around us using language. Our language abilities directly correlate with our ability to understand what we read and develop literacy.

As children progress through their school years, they face ever-increasing language demands. They need to develop their language comprehension to keep up with discussions with their peers, understand their curriculum content and follow more complex instructions. In addition, they have to understand the language of difficult written material. Students are increasingly expected to write cohesive texts, express their own thoughts and ideas and solve more challenging problems.

My child hasn’t started school yet, so why should I think about seeing a speech pathologist?

Even before your child starts school, they are developing foundational learning skills. These include:

  • Understanding language to follow instructions, answer questions and get meaning from what they hear and see

  • Expressing themselves appropriately with words, sentences and gestures

  • Developing a robust, complex, well-organised vocabulary

  • Learning concept words and what they represent

  • Learning to listen to sounds

  • Developing an awareness of how words are formed with syllables and sounds

  • Telling coherent stories

  • Socialising with peers

Your child will need these skills to integrate into their formal learning environment and cope with academic learning challenges. A speech pathology assessment will help determine your child’s strengths and identify areas where they may need additional support.

How can a speech pathologist help my child in primary school?

A speech pathologist can assess your child’s language and the skills they need for reading, spelling and writing. We consider your child’s age, stage of development and work with you to establish clear, achievable goals.

What about older students?

We continue to work with students from preschool through to their university years. Older students often need support to develop their higher-level language and thinking skills, including self-monitoring and goal setting, vocabulary, and understanding metaphors and inferences to improve their comprehension. Speech pathologists can also teach students strategies to compensate for their particular learning needs within their learning environment, such as organisational, planning and sequencing skills.

If your child is falling behind at school or is not learning to read and write as fast as you expect them to then, we’re here to help. At Newcastle Speech Pathology, we love to see parents equipped with the knowledge and skills to help their children become confident learners and clear communicators. Book in to see one of our highly experienced speech pathologists in our Hamilton clinic or online from anywhere you are.


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