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How to get extra support from your school

After-school tutoring and conflict resolution are just two of the many ways schools can address the diverse needs of students.

By GreatSchools Staff

It's no secret that a typical U.S. school does a great deal more than teach reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to create an environment conducive to teaching and learning, most schools provide a variety of support services to students including individualized tutoring, decision-making guidance and assistance for those with personal problems that hinder success in school.

What academic support do schools offer?

Some schools offer tutoring and homework clubs before school, after school or during lunch. Many schools target specific groups of students who are at risk of falling behind or dropping out. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools that do not make adequate annual progress for three years to provide supplemental services, including tutoring, to students at the school. Peer tutoring is another approach and can benefit both the student tutor and the student who needs extra academic support.

If a child is having serious difficulty in school, academically or socially, and needs special attention or an alternative approach to learning, schools are required at minimum by federal law to convene a student study team. This team consists of all the adults who work regularly with the child and know him well: parents, teachers, an administrator and any other relevant school staff. The team, with the student, devises a plan to address any obstacles to learning and to foster greater academic success. Convening a student study team is often the first step in deciding whether or not a student should receive further testing to determine eligibility for special education services.

What nonacademic services do schools provide?

In the area of healthcare, funding for school nurses has decreased over time to the point that many school districts no longer employ nurses, or they assign them to work in several schools rather than one. Some schools have found alternative ways to provide health education and services to students, usually through collaborations with local agencies and sometimes with the help of grants or programs. With the proper resources, schools can offer hearing and vision screening to detect such problems as hearing loss and myopia and assist students with chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes.

Conflict-resolution programs, including peer-mediation programs, have been popular over the last several years. Bullying-prevention programs are also on the rise. Many schools also provide counseling for students who are facing personal struggles (such as depression or anxiety) or refer students to community-based organizations that provide counseling services.

When schools face budget cuts, on-campus counseling and health services are often the programs that are targeted for elimination. Child advocates often push for more support services to address the complex needs of students; some school experts, however, view the business of school as strictly teaching and learning and would like to see less emphasis on nonacademic services.


Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/2/2009:
"I have three boys. one a great student, one with ADHD, and one with dyslexia. I'm willing and do everything i can to help, assist the children and teachers. But the school gives me no real answers or help. My now 3rd grader with ADHD has had no real help and is 'allowed' extra time on tests in which he doesn't need. The problem is diagnosing the children. There are lots of children that have developmental and learning disabilities. just please tell us what to do. where to go. how to help our kids!!!! Fine put them in a special class with extra help, i dont want them taking up 'normal learning' children's time and teacher's patience. But do diagnose them atleast for placement. My 8 yr old comes home every day upset, sad, being made fun of, because he's not getting the help he needs. Why does it take the school so long to help. They are still 'looking' at his progress to figure out what to do with him. he's been in school for 4 years. are they kidding me!"
09/1/2009:
"All this sounds great unless you have a Deaf child in Eastern Pennsylvania. Here the Governor closes one of three deaf schools and cuts programs. Norrows down hight school program only in Philly and Pittsburgh. How can this be right to put young students on a bus ride for a 6 hour ride away from family? The President ask us all to have more education, all I want is to have an equal chance at a basic education in Pennsylvaian for the Deaf. How can this happen? "
01/17/2006:
"When comparing schools such as the two York elementary schools there is no opportunity to ask which school does a better job teaching the dyslexic student.Also do the teachers in either school, work with parents and those who evaluate dyslexia, to do the alternative teaching that is required to help the dyslexic student suceed?"
08/1/2005:
"The idea that it's the school's resposibility to educate the child is part of the problem our kids are having. It's BOTH the parents' and the schools' job to educate our kids. If you think that the school can do everything necessary to educate your child, you're copping out. In Japan, the parents believe that their real work starts when the child enters school. Here, too many parents opt out when their little ones start kindergarden or first grade. That's why their students are beating our kids out for high paying jobs."
08/2/2004:
"I feel that our teacher are being pushed to their limits and I am a parent willing to fight for our teachers but more so to fight for my child with learning and behavior problems. I feel keeping my children in a 'regular' class room is best yet I feel a support teacher is what the 'regular' class needs, not only for my child but to support the teacher as well. I have always fought to better the schools as a parent I have and still do utilize my resorces to get my children the help they need and I strongly feel that our schools need to help more and educate our teachers to better cope and teach all children. So they can better utilize their resorces and teach all the children together the best they can!! The saddest thing I have seen in our schools IS PARENT INVOLEMENT, it does take a village to raise a child and to teach them!!! We has parents have a responsibilty to our children to be MORE INVOLVED in their EDUCATION and LIFE LEARNINGS!!!!!!!! "
03/16/2004:
"learning is a life long process and knowledge is power. both parent and school are responsible. and unfortunately, since many parents lack knowledge or concern for morals and manners, schools should devote time and quality into teaching kids about basic morals, compassion and etiquette. For example, simple things like holding a door open, covering the mouth when burping, or thanking, in writing, someone for a gift. Also, learning how to call before 'popping' in on somebody and bringing something or helping when a guest. I was raised w/ these qualities and agree they are paramount for all people in a society as diverse as is. Kids and adults both everywhere lack these basic skills. they are just as if not more important than much of the curriculum taught all over. it seems less is focused on academics and manners, yet more is emphasized on p.e.or political issues,( drugs,sex ed, etc)i am the mother of 4 ( 23,20,14,11). I have always insisted on teaching mine, ho! nesty, integrity, manners, grammer and academics! "
11/5/2003:
"I have an eight year old. It is the responsibility of the Parents and the school to teach that child. I was reading very well in 3rd grade and I am having to cope with the fact that my child can not read very well. If the parent's and educators work together as a team then it will work. "
08/21/2003:
"At least in California, state law says that it is mandatory that a school educate your child according to their needs, which means, like it or not, EVERY child has to be taught even if it's an inconvenience to the children without special needs. School IS for learning, and not just academically. They need to be taught to socialize also. Maybe the answer is not a mainstream classroom for all children. As far as a counselor, my son has been in counseling for 5 years and continues to have problems in school daily. Counselors are not 'cure-alls'. I am a single parent who works full time. It's the schools responsiblity to educate him. The school needs to have the resources to teach him, or provide the financial means to put him into a special school. Maybe if you had a child with special needs, you'd learn to see the other side of the coin and have some compassion. I happen to have another child one year younger, who is an honor student with exceptionally good behavior. I can see both sides of this issue and see where the schools are lacking in resources. "
08/11/2003:
"Although I would like to agree with the above statement,I'm afraid that I can not. School is for learning not for dealing with individual students emotional problems. That is what counseling is for. I am tired of my daughter suffering because her teacher has to spend half the day dealing with the children with emotional problems and learning disabilities. She deserves the best as well and how can that happen when teachers are streched to the limits and forced to deal with problems they are in capabable of dealing with in the first place. I do not know A mental health cousnslor alive that has to deal with 20 patients at a time and is expected to have good results.Why do we expect this of our teachers? I believe the services to help children with problems succeed are nessasary but when they are not available the parents need to be responsiable and find a way to get there child the help they need to succeed. "
06/9/2003:
"I agree with the writer. My grandson has A.D.D. He also suffers from low self esteem, and depression. His parents were both drug users. I'm tired of hearing he was unruly in class. He needs help. He's barely keeping up in shcool. Where can I turn? "
02/21/2003:
"isn't this a contradiction? every day more of our young children are being put on serious medications, yet guidance/counseling services are basically being neglected. i would like to see MORE emphasis on non-academic services, and give the very little ones TIME to socially and emotionally adjust to school. "
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