Struggling Student Holiday Rescue

Elizabeth Cannon, JD
Licensed Attorney in Georgia, Nevada, Oregon

Has something changed about your child’s comfort and success in school? Does your child have special needs? Are they gifted and talented? Do they have an IEP or Section 504 Plan? Have you noticed a change? Are they struggling? Socially? Academically?  If so, the Holiday/Winter Break can give you time observe and learn about what’s going on.

 Chances are, if you’ve seen enough of a problem to be here with us, on this page, you and your child are at one of the more common social and academic turning points.  The most common is when they start changing classes, rather than being with the same teacher and classmates all day. The time is now to seek ways to find more support for your child. And if your son or daughter already has an IEP or Section 504 Plan, then it may be time to update.

 This change of the school-day routine can cause several problems for students, who previously had been able to adapt and self-accommodate.  For example, students who have learning disabilities or  difficulty with social skills no longer have a full day to ask questions, communicate concerns, and resolve misunderstandings.  Classes are not only shorter, they end abruptly with minimal time to get to the next class.

Plus, the pandemic was hard on many students. Forced online learning deprived many students of much needed classroom interaction and direct face-to-face teacher support. Now, many students are struggling because of lost learning and socialization opportunities connected to Covid.

So, how do you know what’s happening with your child and what the underlying difficulty might be?  And then, how can you use the Winter Break to start addressing the source of your child’s struggle? Start with a School Review. Ask your child how things are going; what they like and don’t like about school; ask what things are easy and what are hard. Most importantly, ask your child if they feel like they are not successful at school; this one question may be the biggest indicator that your child may require additional support.

Once you identify that your child is in distress, reach out to the school district, school administrator, or school counselor to find out about next steps. If your child already is being served under an IEP or Section 504 Plan, then it may be time for a meeting to adjust provisions of the plan. If your child is not yet receiving specialized support, you may wish to ask for a status meeting on their progress. If you are in Georgia, you can ask for an RTI (Response To Intervention) meeting to ask for your child to be moved up the RTI pyramid to a higher level of service. In other states, you can inquire about how to request a higher level of support for your child’s learning, socialization, or behavioral issues.

When serious problems arise, parents are often comforted by recruiting the support of an advocate. Reach out to the author or to Orchard Human Services, Inc. for more information about advocacy and to learn how your child’s learning may be enhanced with outside support.

You can reach Elizabeth Cannon, JD at

Or call her at 404-274-3900

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