Success outside of school

Help your child experience success and self-esteem in activities beyond the school walls.

By Nancy Firchow, M.L.S.

There's more to life than school

School can be a tough place for kids with learning difficulties. Academic demands, coupled with feelings that he's different from his peers, can lead to stress and frustration and may be the first step on the road to damaged self-esteem.

You know this recipe all too well. You watch your child work twice as hard as his classmates to complete homework assignments and see him equating academic difficulty with being a failure.

As an adult, you know that there's much more to life than school. You know that success and self-esteem have little to do with grade-point averages. But kids may have trouble seeing beyond the school routine. You can help your child gain some perspective, and a self-esteem boost, by guiding him toward activities that play to his strengths and offer opportunities for success.

When looking for ways to make your child feel successful, consider this: No one knows him as well as you do. You understand his strengths, weaknesses, and interests better than anyone. Use this knowledge when choosing activities, even if it means bypassing what all the other kids in the neighborhood are doing in favor of something more suited to him.

Finally, a key to success in any activity is that it's appropriate for his age or developmental level. Be sure to consider your child's level of maturity and his social comfort zone. If he feels more comfortable with slightly younger kids, investigate groups or classes that span a range.

Suggested strategies

Extracurricular activities

Activities at home

Exposure to a wide variety of activities contributes to learning in fun and nonstressful ways. Don't force your child to excel, but let him enjoy many new experiences. Help him set realistic goals and celebrate the small achievements. With each success, you'll see your child gain confidence that will spill over into other areas of his life.

© 2008 GreatSchools Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally created by Schwab Learning, formerly a program of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation