By Jodie Dawson, Psy.D.
Recently, we spoke with 4th and 5th graders who have identified learning disabilities. Their responses confirmed how important it is for adults to talk openly with kids about their thoughts and feelings. These quotes serve as a reminder to all of us that kids' views are unpredictable, insightful, and, at times, humorous.
What's the most important thing you think about when starting a new school year?
- You have to be able to increase your grade level so that when you're in 5th grade you will be with the 5th graders so you'll know what to do. At least that's what my parents tell me.
- My parents usually buy me new things like a backpack and highlighter.
- Next year I hope to get better grades.
- Try to work as hard as possible. Stay focused and turn all my homework in.
What do you think will be really hard for you?
- I have to do better in school and know everything double, like math. I used to not listen to the teacher, but I listened to the older kids so that I would know what to do.
- Making new friends.
- Knowing which friends still want to be friends and reconnecting with old friends after the summer break.
- Facing the new teacher is scary. Other kids might tell you the teacher you have for next year is mean, and you have to wait all summer to find out.
What are you most afraid of forgetting when you start school?
- My glasses!!
- To turn in my homework!
What advice do you have for kids starting 4th or 5th grade?
- It would be good to have a friend that got held back because he would already know what to do. A new kid going into 4th could ask that person or ask the 5th graders.
- You need to know how to write cursive. You can't forget it because you have to do it a lot.
- Don't be noisy! Some kids are just talking, talking, and talking' and then the teacher yells.
- Don't pay attention to others when they make fun of you. Look out for people who want to boss you around.
- Do your homework and try to pass the year.
- If you're in Ms. Smith's class, don't talk a lot because she'll get really mad. If everyone's talking at the same time, she just can't stand it anymore, and then she starts to yell.
- If you have a fight, don't hit back. Find a solution, say you're sorry, tell the teacher, shake hands, and then just go back to being friends. Also, don't lie — it's very, very bad. And, don't steal or be greedy. Also, you should know there are lots of field trips.
- Look out for long division, multiplication problems, and you get more homework. That's it.
- Turn in your homework and be prepared for a lot of work.
- Just try harder about the things that you have a learning disability in and never quit. Just never give up your faith.
- Try to be organized. If you don't get something, go to your teacher!