MOTHERS are usually the first to know when something is going wrong for their child at school.
Even if the child maintains that school is "okay", their mood and behaviour can indicate clearly that everything is definitely not okay.
Children can try to cover up their difficulties at school for a number of reasons.
They may not want to add to the family's worries by bringing up school problems; they may want to solve the problem themselves without an adult's intervention; or they don't want their parents thinking any less of them.
Martin Marshall of Front Runner Learning Centre at Rooty Hill says a familiar strategy used by children who are struggling at school is to label the difficult areas as "stupid" and "boring".
"Despite what children say about school, they know that the main purpose of school is to learn," he said. "When they are not learning well, friendships, sport and all the other activities of school cannot compensate for the frustration of not learning. It's important to find a way to help your child open up about their difficulties. If some help is needed to sort out a learning difficulty, they will want this done in the most private way possible, often without any reference to the school."
Trenna Newman of Front Runner Learning Centre at Penrith said an effective approach to helping your child through their difficult time is to let your child acknowledge they have a learning problem and to let them ask for help.
"Make it clear to your child that you are not bursting to take over a problem, but that you are keen to offer support and to act as a sounding board for their own ideas for addressing the problem," Mrs Newman said. "Allow your child to hold on to control for as long as possible unless there is a clear threat of danger. If your child then decides to ask for your help, it is with the confidence that you have listened thoroughly, and with the knowledge that their own efforts are not enough."
Mrs Newman said children saw school as their territory, and not one where parents are necessarily welcome.
"Your work to help them sort out the problems at school will be far more welcome than your invasion of their school world," she said.
■ Details: If your child does need help with school work, call Mrs Newman from Front Runner Learning Centre Penrith on 4722 5598 or Mr Marshall from Front Runner Learning Centre Rooty Hill on 9832 8299.