How to Use Year-End Challenges to Optimize the Learning Experience


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Image provided by C. C. Malloy

The end of the calendar year can become very hectic at school and at home. There is so much happening for everyone — projects, assessments, class parties and shopping just to name a few. Families tend to focus on the holidays and sometimes schoolwork might get overlooked. Certainly this is no excuse, but it happens.  

At this point in the school year, some parents become worried that their exceptional child might not be making progress. They get nervous about the situation, which only adds to the year-end frenzy. Parents try to rush the academic process before the winter break.

Therefore, disagreements with school personnel tend to become inevitable. Nevertheless, parents can be proactive by using any year-end challenges as a way to educate and motivate for the optimum learning experience. Here’s how.

Keep Talking

Sure, we don’t like being told what to do, especially when our child is involved. Forming a communicative bond with the educator is one way to get through this chaotic time of year. An easy way to do this is to work directly with the teacher instead of requesting a formal meeting with administrators. Focusing on plans that work provides a starting point for the student after the holiday break. Parents and teachers can educate each other to build a stronger base for the student. I am a firm believer that people don’t know they are doing something incorrectly until someone points it out, and even then, good will usually prevails.

This is not a time to argue, but with the holiday stress, it is easy to understand the frustration. Keep in mind that teachers appreciate honest and thoughtful communication.

Staying Power

Sometimes, just the idea of a new year brings a sense of relief and inner peace to families with a disabled child. The end of the year tends to be bittersweet — another year is over but new opportunities are waiting.

Parents can take advantage of these last few weeks of the year by keeping up with projects and assignments. They should also be ready for the unpredictable. Parents are reminded that as hard as it might be to motivate their student during this hectic time, it is important to keep at it.

Motivation and encouragement are vital to our precious children. It is so easy for us as parents to become complacent. We get tired very quickly, but if we don’t keep up the momentum, it will be even harder for our children when school resumes.  

Opportunities for Practice

I like to think of these last few weeks of the calendar year as “practice” for our exceptional students. The holiday rush offers a great way to apply life, social and academic skills. In the grand scheme of things, support and encouragement are really what matter most. Chances are the student won’t be able to complete all the assignments at the last minute, anyway.

This is the time for students to try their best, but also to realize that it is joyous time of year. Take a step back and breathe.

Students can continue to practice in any areas that need work, with the understanding that they will be able to do better in the future. After all, this is what school is all about — learning and practicing the skill.

No one knows better than we do about believing in our child. There will be plenty of learning experiences, but nothing so urgent that we forget we are parents and teachers first. Everything else will fall into place. 

C. C. Malloy is a disability advocate and steadfast supporter of special needs children. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.

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About This Blog

An Exceptional World

A resource for exceptional parents of exceptional children.


 Micki Bare assistant editor/web editor

About This Blog

C.C. Malloy is a disability advocate and the mother of three fantastic young adults. A freelance writer, she writes about the daily opportunities parents encounter raising a child with a disability. Her blog focuses on helping parents cope with the functions of their child’s educational accommodations from the start of elementary school through transition to college. Malloy has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Carolina Parent Magazine. For additional assistance and support, please visit her website Bizigal's Exceptional Blooms.

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