“I’m no good at reading”
“I’m in the special group at school”
I’m just stupid – everyone is smarter than me”
These are just some of the comments my daughter makes on a relatively frequent basis and she is only 7.
Officially a formal assessment for learning differences is not recommended until children are 7, but the reality is that many children who will eventually be diagnosed with learning difficulties, can sense they are different a couple of years before this.
Since my daughter was in year 1, she was aware that she could not read or write as well as many of her peers and friends. On moving to year 2, she was acutely aware of the fact that she had been put into what she felt was a special group for “stupid kids”. I’m not qualified to fully understand how her brain interpreted this, but it is very clear to me that her confidence is taking a real battering as a result. Its heart breaking to hear to talk about it and it is heart breaking to observe.
Finding opportunities to boost her confidence has become so important to me now.
My daughter fortunately is quite a fast runner and loves to sing. In parents meetings, I talked with the school about finding opportunities for her to shine. At Christmas she was given the opportunity to sing quite a complicated solo at the Christmas play which she did in front of the whole school, parents and teachers. She practiced really hard, memorised 5 verses of the song and performed beautifully. She was so proud of her achievement and was even prouder when parents came up to congratulate her. She was on an absolute high.
On reflecting on the event afterwards with my daughter, we made a real point of highlighting that not many kids would have been able to do what she did. Just as she can stand and sing in front of many where others struggle, others can read easily whilst she struggles.
We do not have these opportunities often but when we do, we take full advantage as the positive effect of this huge boost in confidence carries her for many days. For a little while she believes she can achieve anything – and of course, she can.