Once you’ve decided to get your child evaluated, it’s important to talk to your child about the process to reduce his/her anxiety. The goal of your talks is to make your child feel comfortable about an assessment. She should understand that this is the best way for you and her teacher to come up with a plan that will give her the help she needs. You and your child may also need to talk through her concerns about having learning and attention issues.
Below are some ideas how to talk to your child about the testing.
Discuss what’s fun and what’s hard at school. Start out by talking about what your child enjoys. Then ease into the question: “What’s hardest about school?” It doesn’t matter if your child identifies the issues you’re most concerned about. She can mention anything that’s challenging. The point is to let her know that the evaluation will help your child, you and teachers finding ways to help.
Explain the process. Point out that the assessment isn’t really a test but a series of activities. You can also tell your child that some of them will be fun. Make it clear to your child that she won’t get a grade and can’t fail—even if she doesn’t know the answers to some of the questions or how to do an activity. But also encourage her to try her best because the evaluation will help everyone understand how she learns best.
Older kids are usually aware of their learning and attention issues and why they’re being tested. They also probably know that the process could end with them getting additional support. It’s important to address any concerns your child has about what might happen. Here are some things you can say:
Your child, you and the teachers will get information that will help you all understand why she’s struggling in school.
The school may provide the support and services that can help her succeed at school. Those could include different kinds of instruction, changes to her work or accommodations like extra time for tests. The school will know if your child should be working with other teachers or specialists who are trained to help kids with her type of weaknesses.
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