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Or thinking? Or not thinking? These questions pretty much describe last week for me. Never got the last blog finished. There was actually one day when I prepared for a student who was not scheduled for that day!

I’m sure we’ve all had those weeks when we’ve spent more time trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing, or what we should have done than actually doing it.

At j&R Tutoring Academy we have students from numerous school districts as well as Montessori and home schooled. Some began school last week and the balance will return this week. So we are transitioning from the summer schedule to the winter. Of course, no one is changing on the same day.

I was beginning to think I’d totally lost it! Add to that j&R was an exhibitor at the Hamilton County Sports Complex Family Fun Day on Saturday, and I had to get our materials together. Needless to say by Saturday night, I was exhausted. This week life should return to “normal.” Whatever that is!!

All of this chaos got me to thinking about the students whose daily lives are like this. They can’t remember where they put their backpack. They have misplaced their homework. They have trouble remembering words they knew yesterday. They feel like something is wrong with them.

My chaotic week was due to a confluence of events and changes to my normal routine that temporarily overwhelmed me. For children this state of chaos may be an indicator of other problems.

I knew my chaotic week was going to pass and life would return to normal. However, last week I was quite tired. The stress of everything just wore me out. Try and imagine a six or seven year old whose every day is like this! I did not have anyone telling me to do better or questioning why I had not gotten something done in a timely manner. Youngsters, who are already stressed, usually have one or more adults adding more pressure.

Too often mom and dad and their teacher think the child is not trying, or that they intentionally misplaced their work. When pressed for an explanation, the child says s/he doesn’t know. This can escalate into a much more confrontational situation. The child may promise to do better, and then repeat the same behavior, much to the chagrin of the parents and/or teacher.

This type of problem can be an indicator of dyslexia. Although most have heard the word, many may not really understand what it is. There are many types and degrees of dyslexia, and I won’t try to explain them at this time. For this discussion suffice it to say that dyslexia interferes with normal learning.

I bring this up now because as schools begin, if your child exhibits learning behaviors that seem out of the ordinary, please don’t assume s/he is just acting out. There may be an underlying problem.

Most public schools are very reluctant to test children in the early grades. They will tell you that they do not want to label a child so early. They will remind you that young children mature at different levels and that you should just give your child some time.

All of this is quite true; however, everything I have read on dyslexia states that the earlier a child begins alternate instruction, the quicker they will be able to learn to adapt. Sometimes it is as simple as an alternate method of instruction.

The majority of children are visual learners, but for those who are not, the early grades can be over whelming. Dyslexia does not mean that a child is not intelligent. It just means that they must be taught in a way that meets their needs. Imagine, if you will, being six years old in a classroom where the walls are plastered with visuals! The other students see letters, numbers, signs, etc. You just see confusion. Then compound that with the stress of not being able to answer questions about those visuals.

Taking this a step further – you know each morning that the same situation is going to happen, and you do not know how to fix it. You also don’t understand why the other kids can see what’s there, and you cannot.

As I noted, my stress from last week caused me to be really tired every day, and I knew why it was happening. A young child has no answers.

So as your children return to school, please note if your child exhibits any behaviors that seem different to you. There may not be any problem, but if there is, it’s always better to address it early.