Connecting the Generations-Learning Outside the Lines

Fall is a fun and exciting time for kids – class begins, activities start, and pals reunite. However, back-to-school can be a dreaded and difficult time for children who don’t learn well in that environment. If your child doesn’t seem to fit the mold, know that you are not alone. It’s likely your son or daughter learns in a modality that isn’t being addressed in school. This experience can be hard on your child and even more on the family, so challenge yourself to explore your child’s learning style and discover an outlet where he can thrive.

When our son was in 4th grade, it became clear he was struggling in school. We consulted teachers, counselors, administrators, and learning specialists, none of which yielded results. Our son was consequently sad and withdrawn and had taken on a negative view of himself as a learner. He begged to stay home. He feigned illness. Needless to say, I was concerned for his mental health and well-being.

During winter break, we made a bold move and took him out of public school to pursue homeschooling. We were uncertain how this would affect his outlook on learning but pushed forward to find educational activities that were engaging and fun. We went to a variety of museums and enrolled in science exploration classes. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but in this situation, our son thrived! He bounced back emotionally and was able to rediscover a love for learning.

There are plenty of ways to learn. If your daughter doesn’t thrive in school, make sure she has success in other places. Hobbies, sports teams, martial arts, dance, mentoring relationships, and scout groups all off-er opportunities for kids to engage, learn, develop, and grow. Find an activity, group, or outlet your child will excel in, and most importantly, people or friends to connect with.

If school isn’t your child’s “thing” you may have to downplay the importance of school. Do whatever you can to help your child connect, find passion, and learn to excel – that’s the key. The truth is, success in school does not always correlate to success in life. We parents would do well to remember that!

Believe in your kids, be available for help, and above all, be compassionate. They need your love and support, especially in times of struggle or confusion. If your kids learn outside the lines, give them the love and support to thrive.

By Amy Sluss.  Amy Sluss, RN, is an author and family-life specialist from Pleasanton, CA. Check out her blog at