Last week, I had a fascinating discussion with Mary Hannert, the Early Childhood Education Director at Elgin Academy, a progressive private school in the suburbs of Chicago. Two weeks before my conversation with Mary, I conducted a parent workshop at EA’s Annual Education Symposium. We began the workshop by taking an inventory of our own learning preferences and reflecting on how these preferences affected our own school experiences. Parents then used this framework to understand their children, how they learn, and what environments help them thrive.
Mary was following up with me and asked if I could conduct a similar workshop for the EA Early Childhood faculty. Mary discussed the teachers’ main concern, which involved finding the balance between being attentive and proactive but not overreacting when they notice children starting to struggle and lag behind their classmates, particularly with early reading skills.
The teachers want to know what learning characteristics are worthy of setting off alarm bells, and what traits were worth noting and watching, but not necessitating immediate intervention.
In other words, how do you know when a young child is heading towards serious challenges in school? And when do you say “He may be a little behind his peers, but this is developmentally normal and will work itself out in time”?
This is such a great question and a complicated issue. So much of teaching and parenting involves making judgment calls. I found some helpful guidelines on the website of the International Dyslexia Association, Massachusetts branch:
I also discuss three “red flags” in early childhood learning in today’s video blog.
As always, please feel free to leave feedback and further questions! Organic discussions are our best tool.