At a glance
Lots of families feel uncomfortable about getting your child extra help in school.
You may worry about your child being labeled or treated differently.
Thinking through your family’s unique concerns can help guide your decision.
We want to do what’s best for our kids. That includes getting them the help they need to thrive in school. Still, it’s understandable if you’re hesitant about getting your child help at school. You might have concerns about what that means—both for your child and for you.
Here are some common concerns about getting extra help for your child.
1. You’re worried about your child being labeled.
A lot of families worry about this, and for different reasons. Your child having a “label” of needing extra help might touch a nerve that only you can explain.
Some families in our community worry about their child being viewed as “less than” or “not good enough.” Others worry about adding a label on top of one their child already has, and what that will mean for their child.
Try to keep in mind that the goal of getting help in school isn’t to add a barrier between your child and the other students. Instead, it’s to get your child the support needed to thrive alongside other kids.
And getting help in school isn’t just about what your child struggles with. It’s also about discovering more of your child’s strengths and using them to get better at something.
2. You’re worried your child will feel “dumb.”
Kids who learn and think differently may worry about being “dumb.” And as a parent, it can be hard to hear your child say it.
3. You’re worried your child will be singled out by other kids.
Friendship and socializing are a big part of school. You might worry your child will be made fun of, teased, or even bullied for getting extra support. It’s good to remind your child (and yourself) that everybody has strengths and challenges—even the kids who seem like they’re good at everything.
Yes, some kids may say negative things. And it’s important to talk about that with your child and come up with a plan for when it does. Other kids might just be curious about why (or even jealous that) your child leaves the room or has extra help.
4. You’re worried your child will be seen differently by teachers.
It may be hard to trust that teachers will see that your child can live up to the same expectations as other kids. You may also worry that a teacher may say something insensitive or not understand learning and thinking differences.
5. You’re worried about having to work with the school.
Not all families are comfortable interacting with school staff. You might be shy or don’t like talking about yourself and your family. You might be uncomfortable for other reasons unique to your family. Or you might want to be more involved but can’t because of work schedules and other obstacles.
If you don’t like face-to-face interactions, try emailing the teacher to find an arrangement that works better for you. You can also talk about schedule restraints and how to work around them. You may find that the school has a solution that will work for you and your family.
Getting your child support in school can help relieve some of the stress you might be feeling. It may take some effort to get there, but in the long run, and it can be helpful for both you and your child. Kids who get the support they need often make better progress in school. And feeling successful in the classroom can help your child build positive self-esteem.
Do you want to hear from other parents and caregivers? Connect with other families in our secure Understood Community.
Talk with your child about how everyone has strengths and challenges.
Share your concerns with the school so you can find solutions together.
Getting your child support in school can help relieve some stress you may be feeling.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.