Falling through the cracks simply means falling behind
when everyone else is moving forward.
With teachers being more taxed than ever before, the risk of students falling through the cracks is on the rise. The education system expects a lot from today’s teachers, from individualized instruction to behavior management, teachers do it all, often with a lack of available materials, resources, and support. This environment sets the stage for some children, especially those who do not cause classroom disruptions, to fall through the cracks. Here are some tips for how educators and parents can work together to help prevent kids from falling through the cracks.
What Educators Can Do:
- Know who is at risk. While falling behind can happen to any student, it’s important for educators to know who is at greatest risk. This includes students with low IQ, reading and learning disabilities, boys, kids with challenging home lives, and kids with behavior and mental health issues.
- Assess regularly. Regular, informal assessments to gauge students’ handle on academic material help you identify kids who might be slipping behind before it becomes difficult to help them catch up. This doesn’t mean subjecting kids to constant testing. Informal assessment of knowledge can take many forms, including active conversations about subject matter, opportunities to instruct others, and Socratic method teaching styles.
- Elicit participation from all kids, not just those who volunteer. The rumor is true, it’s the quiet ones, the ones that don’t rock the boat, who manage to slide by under the radar for years before anyone ever realizes they have fallen behind.
- Provide opportunities for all students to feel successful. Students are more engaged with the education system when they feel like they can be successful there. Offering students different ways to achieve success in education that don’t always correspond with grades is one way to keep lower-performing children interested and engaged.
- Early intervention is better. A wait-and-see approach might not be the best course of action if you aren’t sure whether a student requires formal intervention or not. With most learning challenges, the earlier the intervention the better, so if you have any reason to think a student might benefit from some extra help, providing those opportunities can only benefit the student.
What Parents Can Do:
- Recognize the signs your child needs help. These can include poor grades, physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, behavior changes, or a change in attitude about school.
- E-mail your child’s teacher. Share your concerns and what accommodations are helping at home. Ask what they’re experiencing with your child in the classroom.
- Trust your instincts. No one knows your child better, so if you know they need additional support, keep pushing until you’re heard.
- Request psychoeducational testing from the school district to identify whether your child would benefit from accommodations. You can read more about how to request an evaluation here.
- Consider outside testing if your concerns are surrounding an issue your district is not well equipped to diagnose, such as auditory processing difficulties.
The academic system can be challenging to navigate, but with patience, frequent communication, and persistence, parents and educators can work together to help every child find success.