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Is Your Child Enjoying This School Year? It's Not Too Early to Assess

It may seem early, but October is a perfect point in the school year to assess your child's progress. Your child has had enough time to become accustomed to their schedule, routine and new classmates and the teacher has informally assessed kids to determine progress compared to grade-level expectations. Since it can take weeks or months to fix academic or social issues, it is important to assess early and often. In addition, waiting can cause some problems to become more difficult to fix, which could negatively impact your child's self-confidence.


There are three main areas to evaluate at this point in the school year. By asking yourself the following questions, and answering them honestly, you will recognize areas of weakness and then address them successfully.


1. School

  • Does your child enjoy school, speak positively about their teacher, and feel good about their successes.
  • Does your child complete class work successfully most of the time? Is homework relatively stress-free, not resulting in delays and tantrums (your child) or excessive nagging and yelling (you)?

If you answered no to any of these questions, begin by making an immediate appointment with your child's teacher (don't wait for parent/teacher conferences). At this meeting, ask pointed questions and share examples of concerning behaviors. Agree on a concrete strategy to work toward a solution. Schedule another meeting to review your child's progress. If necessary, request that the school psychologist or counselor be present at the next meeting.


2. Social life

  • Does your child report feeling content with their social life? Do they have healthy friendships (respect for each other)? Does your child spend time with friends outside of school?
  • Are you confident that your child is not being bullied or that they don't bully other children? Bullying can be very difficult to see as an adult. It can be physical or verbal; in person, online or by cell phone.

If you answered no to any of these questions, your child needs support to learn strategies that will improve their social life. The right strategies will vary depending upon your child's personality and needs. Even if your child is a bully, they still need your help, rather than punishment. If they are the target of bullying, you may need to intervene directly. Ask your child about their social life. Also, speak to your child's teacher and to the school counselor. If necessary, seek private counseling to help you and your child.


3. Daily routine

  • Does your child manage their daily routine - dressing, eating, bathing, activities, bedtime - with no more than age-appropriate assistance?
  • Does your child enjoy their extracurricular activities? Are they able to balance school with additional activities?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it is time to assess your child's routine and schedule. Perhaps they need a more or less structured routine. The adults must create the structure and then reinforce it consistently. If you are concerned that your child is lagging behind others in the activities of daily living, consult your paediatrician to determine whether an evaluation is recommended. Maybe your child has too many extracurricular activities, which have caused your child to become overwhelmed. You have time before the second semester or next sports season begins, to reassess and adjust accordingly.


Dr. Susan Bartell is America's #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at

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