He's in 3rd grade now and the pace is fast, really fast. He's gotta learn the multiplication tables and you've seen memory problems. His teacher is asking him to read a story and then, WRITE about it. But wait a minute, he's not really all that great with reading. STOP! LET HIM CATCH UP!!! No, no we can't. It might have been OK to retain him in kindergarten or first grade, but now? Oh no, everyone will see it. They'll make comments. His friends will make fun of him. He'll be scarred the rest of his life. You can't just let him go on like this because he'll be scarred by failure.
Ever use one of those "flip books" where there are drawings on each page and if you flip it fast enough, it's like a little movie? Well, that movie is reading comprehension and each page is a word. If Sam is not a competent reader by third grade (yes, third grade), he's unlikely to catch up and he'll get farther and farther behind. The pace will not slow down for him and by the time middle school comes along, he will be very disheartened, anxious and making his way toward depression.
This whole dynamic is such a problem that Edward Hallowell, M.D., wrote a book called When You Worry About The Child You Love. We lose kids in the third grade. They're usually about 8 years old in the third grade. He's 8 and it's over? The answer is, "It can be unless immediate, intensive, individualized interventions are undertaken". I taught third grade. It's true. After working with kids in a private practice setting for 22 years, I see the majority of them referred to me at 3rd, 6th and 9th grades, just when the curriculum and production demands take a serious uptick.
Oh, you know what the "production demands" are. It's the amount of work that is demanded of a student...worksheets, homework, book reports, science projects, essays, tests, tests and tests. As the years wear on, the ante gets upped and upped and upped like some cruel poker game.
You have to know WHAT's going on before you figure out HOW to help. You can ask the school for help, but you have to know how they may respond. You also need to know the limitations of their evaluations. You can seek out a private clinician to conduct an assessment, but make sure they know the educational system and are familiar with the reading, math, writing and processing skills that need to be measured to determine which areas require remediation. Make sure they have significant experience conducting evaluations and have a strong referral base of educational therapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists and assistive technology professionals who can follow-up with specific types of evaluations to identify and provide additional support services.
If you can't wait for an assessment because Susie is drowning, consider contacting the Association of Educational Therapists via their website aetonline to get a quick education as to the profession of educational therapy and referrals. You can learn a lot about pediatric speech and language therapists from their website. And if you are having difficulty "being heard" by school district personnel, consult the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. to find guidance.
Start recording your observations. Email the teachers like mad and tell them "what" it looks like to do the homework. Get everything in writing. Generate your questions. Be shameless. Ask everyone and anyone for ideas and information. You just can't live with the consequences. In 5 years, you don't want to hear that little voice saying, "I should've...."